Summary of the Mother Tongue Article

The article presents the theme of the language barrier effect in the society and the effect of surroundings on the language development. Language is also powerful because it can emit different kinds of emotions. Amy Tan in her article “Mother Tongue” suggests that the language can explain complex ideas, visual images, and various emotions. Tan is an Asian American, and English was her second language, which caused her both academic and social problems. She uses her mother as an example. Tan had to switch her level of English to accommodate both her scholar listeners and her mother. The author says that her mother’s English was limited, and she had to come and rescue her on several instances. Tan is convinced that their social background negatively influenced mastering of a new language. Sociologist and linguistic have also documented that the environment of an individual deeply impacts individuals when learning a second language.  

Learning a new language is advantageous as one can gain new knowledge about new cultures from the native speakers of that language. Additionally, it helps a person to avoid language barriers embarrassment and discrimination. On the contrary, enrolling oneself into the new language has some disadvantages as well. For instance, it can make a person ignore their culture, or simply feel embarrassed by their own language. Amy Tan gives us an example of how she could feel ashamed when her mother spoke English in front of people. 


Thesis Statement

Tan managed to overcome all the obstacles of learning a second language, and she made it as a professional writer. When speaking foreign language, there are several factors that can cause language barrier problems, for instance, a type of audience. Tan had to switch to a simpler English to accommodate her mother at home, and back to a complex English when addressing the group scholars. Consequently, learning a new language is negatively affected by the peer pressure, but it can also be a tool of the trade if it's well mastered. 

The plot

In my case, English is my second language too. I am an Arab, and I grew up in an environment of people speaking Arabic all the time. My parents are both Arabs, although they are able to speak very little of English. We had just relocated from Qatar to the US, and I have to admit that my experiences at school were very difficult. Also, similarly to Tan's experience, my English development progress was slowed down by the situation with my background. We were in the US, but my home was an Arabic speaking area. I tried speaking English to my parents, but they would always reply in Arabic. My academic performances were affected as well. I remember an incidence back then in the lower grade school vividly. It was during the English class and my English teacher Mrs. Susan was giving back the English test results. She gave out all the papers except mine. I was familiar with such moment because it did happen in mathematics and science classes too. She announced that I was the one who scored the least among all the classmates. She went ahead and read to the class some of my responses to questions, which caused the entire class to laugh very hard. Mrs. Susan told me that direct translation was my biggest problem, and I could escape that by dedicating more time to speaking English.


That situation was humiliating especially when some of my classmates made fun of me by uttering sentences that were directly translated. Even though Mrs. Susan made me feel very uncomfortable, I feel that she influenced my pursuit of mastering English. I started putting more effort in English, and I was lucky that my mother started supporting me too by allowing me to have extra English classes with a private tutor on holidays.


Consequently, learning a new language is negatively affected by the peer pressure, and it can be the trade tool if it is well mastered. Amy Tan put more effort in learning English despite the fact she was average in her class, and she even got discouragement from her lecturer, who told her that writing was not her thing. Tan also claims that her progress in English language was slowed by the interaction with her mother whose English was limited. In my opinion, for one to learn a new language, they have to put more effort despite all the obstacles. 

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