Amy Tan Mother Tongue Summary

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Amy Tan a well-known English author, grew up experiencing language barriers. In her article “Mother Tongue”, Tan shows that English, like other languages is a form of expression and communication, and that “it can evoke an emotion, a visual image, a complex idea, [and] a simple truth.” Language according to Tan, ties to one’s culture and identity. Tan’s dialect ties to her Chinese American heritage – the “broken” English that her and her mother spoke in private setting, is what shapes how Tan sees herself and the world around her. The way native English speakers treat Tan affects how she sees her mother. Tan’s embarrassment and shame about her mother’s broken English and the effect that association had on her affected her entirely. Tan later …show more content…
Tan came to this realization as she was “asked as a writer, why there are not many Asian Americans represented in American literature.” As well as “Why are there few Asian Americans enrolled in creative writing programs? Why do Chinese students go into engineering!”. And Tan has it right once more that those questions are long sociological questions, but in a survey, stand point “Asian Americans tend to do better on math achievement test than English.” The reasoning behind it Tan expects to be is at home, the core of children’s learning. Where many Asian American children’s first language is that same intimate language that Tan grew up with. That just like many Asian Americans set her back in terms of English academic standing. These setbacks only limit what Asian Americans strengths and weakness are. Those strengthens and weakness leads the teachers of these broken English speaking students to steer them into professions that they are strong in, such as math and science, careers that do not require the strongest of English skills. Like Tan, who always did significantly better on the math and science classes, “achieving A’s and scoring in the ninetieth percentile or higher”, where as in English she “scored perhaps in the sixth or seventh percentile on achievement test”. These tests were important memories for Tan as so many “broken English” speaking students go into the professions like engineering, sciences, and accounting, because it requires a skill set that they are stronger in that they know they will thrive in… to being challenged and encouraged to go beyond their weakness and do what they want. So, that Asian Americans be equals to proper English speakers and have equal

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