In today’s society, there are over thousands of different languages or dialects speak around the world. And because America is such a diverse country with many individuals capable of speaking two or more languages, they tend to forget the importance of speaking English in America. As an American living in America, it’s not important whether they speak English or not, but what’s important is which language they choose to represent themselves freely. Language is speaked in many forms. Some people may grow up learning one language but choose to speak another and others might simply grow up speaking only one language.
As Chinese myself, I have been speaking Chinese for my whole life. My first language was Chinese and although I’ve learned to speak Japanese and English throughout my childhood, however, Chinese have become one of the most common languages I speak daily. Similar to me, my parents also prefer to speak Chinese although they’ve been living in America for the past ten years. They are not exactly so called American, but they have gotten use to the life style in America that they understand nearly perfect English.
But my parents still speak to me in Chinese when I call them to ask about their days. They tell me about their work, their days, their lives in Chinese and they speak to their friends to their native language. One time I got curious and I tried to have a conversation with them in English. They started alright, speaking English with their deep Chinese accent, but before I realized it, it turned into Chinese conversation. I asked them the reason behind this logic and they told me that it’s because they couldn’t seem to find the right English words.
I wondered for a second what this meant and I finally realized that it’s because they are not familiar with English language like they are with Chinese. Although they have been living in America for a long time and have mastered English language, they choose to speak Chinese freely because they feel comfortable speaking in their first language. Language we speak in our free time is a choice we choose. During my class time, I speak with my teachers and classmates in English because I am in America receiving English education.
However, when I go home or hang out with my friends, I choose to communicate with them in Chinese because they all speak the same language as I do. It’s not because I don’t like to or couldn’t speak English, I just feel like it’s more convenient to speak Chinese because some words are easy to speak in Chinese. Have learned three languages throughout my life, I sometimes feel that I get languages mixed up. When I hang out with my Chinese friends and I want to tell them something funny have happened in my life that day, I could tell them smoothly and make them laugh as I pleased.
By in opposite if I tell this little story in English to my friends who didn’t speak Chinese, it was a little different. I wouldn’t know the translation to some of the Chinese words and the meanings will be completely different. This is why I choose to express myself in Chinese during my free time because it connects to my friends and family better. Because I live in America speaking English is a must, but during my off time or free time I would feel comfortable express myself in my native language. Language is used every single day. We use language to communicate, contact and connect.
For the immigrants who speak bilingually, English is what they use outside of the house. Inside the house, they tend to feel safer speaking the language of their own. My family and I like to go out sometimes for dinner and we tend to always choose a Chinese restaurant. This doesn’t mean that we don’t prefer or dislike American food; it’s simply because of the environment. In a Chinese restaurant it’s better to speak Chinese because almost half of the waiter doesn’t quietly speak perfect English. And it’s a way to start a communication with them if you know their native language.
It’s part of process of being friendly. If you speak the language of the waiter, they will be friendly to you because you have something in common with them. This is part of the nature. When my family and I walked into a Chinese restaurant and ask for their specials, it’s always nice to hear back a friendly response. Living in America and being an American sometimes is important to speak English, but depending on situations, choose to speak native language to communicate freely with one another can get each other closer.
Being Americans means we have the right of speech. People with different backgrounds have the right to choose which languages to speak during their own time. Being in America doesn’t reflect to the fact that all the people living here needs to use English to communicate with each other. Communication is a tool we use to tell each other things and this can be done in English or any other languages we prefer, as long as we feel comfortable with it.
Courtney from Study Moose
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