Language Autobiography: Introduction/Reflection, Essay, Digital Video

For this 2nd quarter English benchmark we are discovering what language means to us personally. We started off with reading short stories by people who had a story that had to do with language just like us. After reading their stories we were able to think about what our stories with language is. For me language is mostly related to my family. My family speaks a second language that is not spanish. Over the years as I grew up I had to learn to adjust to both languages. In my autobiography I talk about how my parents strugge with english and how it effects me. 

Overall I am really proud of my Benchmark. I think I successfully got out the message of what language is to me and how it effects me. I think some of my strengths was the story I was telling to represent what language is in my perspective. I think I am really good at writing scenes. I think my digital video was also really good. I think I found good pictures to go along with my narration. Some of my weaknesses I think is with my conclusion of the essay. I think I wrapped it up a little too fast. If I could do the essay again I think I would make it wrap up more smoothly.

Language Autobiography Essay:

I was waiting in the office. It was going to be another one of those conferences. These conferences were always the one event that I never looked forward to even though I knew I had nothing too bad to worry about. My report card looked amazing. It was definitely something I was proud of. I had A’s in all of my classes’ except for Algebra 1, it’s always math that’s my greatest weakness. I’m good at math, just never good enough to get an A. I always get the B. But that was the last thing on my mind. I couldn’t stop thinking about how the conference was going to be like. I was going to have to translate for my dad and my adviser’s back and forth. I hated talking Bengali in front of people whom I usually spoke English with. I just hated that awkward feel. I could just see the looks of my adviser’s when I start blabbering in Bengali for my dad. I wish that I didn’t have to translate in the first place. I mean my family and I have been living in a English speaking country for such a long time, why is translating so necessary?

Both of my brothers and sisters are a hundred percent fluent in English and I think that a lot of the time we think of English as our default language, putting Bengali second. If we could adjust to English so well why couldn’t my dad? I didn’t understand why my dad couldn’t speak proper English.

I was also upset over the fact that my mom wasn’t coming for the conference and that my dad was coming instead. I never really got a long with my dad. I had always preferred my mom. She always understood how I felt and we rarely ever argued. She also knew better English than my dad did, though she still had an accent. Even still, she spoke good enough to go through a report card conference without needing my help for translation. Also unlike my dad, she took ESOL classes a few years ago and she definitely benefited from it. But unfortunately she wasn’t going to be present during the conference. I sighed and looked at the door.

My dad walked into the office. He came over to me and asked where my conference was going to be.

           “3rd floor, lets go.” I said, tired, sounding like it too.

My dad smiled and nodded at Ms. Diane and headed back out the office door. I followed him out and then stepped ahead of him so I could lead him to Mr. Chase’s room. I knocked on his door and walked in. Mr. Chase and Kay both shook hands with my dad.

“So what do we have here?” Mr. Chase says sounding pensive as he looked down at my narratives. “Jasmin, you can start” Mr. Kay said, nodding at me.           

I began to talk about my grades and how my hardworking earned me A’s, I talked about when I went to lit/math lab during all of my lunch hours through the benchmark season and how I planned to improve in Algebra by taking more standards the next quarter. After I was done talking I looked at my adviser’s, they smiled and asked me a few questions along with giving me some recommendations so that I could keep up with my good grades. I nodded at my teachers, satisfied with their responses, and unwillingly turned to my dad. He was looking too intently at my report card, I thought he didn’t listen to anything I had said, or even understood anything I had said for the past 5 minutes. I sighed in annoyance, and repeated everything I had already said translating it into Bengali for him. My dad looked at me and the narratives back and forth. He nodded his head when I talked about all the A’s. That’s all he ever cared about. After I was done with the translation I looked back at my adviser's. They smiled.

“Balo corso” My dad said, meaning that I did a good job.

“Great job, kiddo!” Mr. Chase said enthusiastically with a big smile.

“We’re proud of you” Mr. Kay said also smiling widely.

“Thanks” I said quietly.

My dad got up and shook hands with my advisers again. I said bye and headed out the door with my dad.

On the way home I was upset throughout the whole ride. I tried to construct my expression into one that wouldn’t give away any of my hidden emotion that I was feeling at the moment. I didn’t show any sign of dis decency. “Balo corso” that’s all he said. I couldn’t believe it. I worked so hard for the past three quarters in my first year of high school and all I get in the end are two lousy words: “good job?” I could think of so many other things my dad could have said. Things that a parent who spoke and understood perfect English could have said. Maybe something like “You did an amazing job this quarter? I’m so proud of you. Don’t you worry about that B in Algebra, I am a hundred percent sure that you can bring that up with just a little bit more effort.” In my head that seemed to be the perfect thing to say instead of just a “Balo corso.”

As soon as I came home I saw my brother and sister compare their report cards. My dad had picked up theirs just before my conference.

“How’d you do?” My sister said.

“Good, you?” I responded.

“Not bad” She said sounding annoyed.

“What’s wrong?” I said. I could hear the curiosity in my voice.

“You should have seen how my conference went! I had to translate for Abujaan, he didn’t respond to any of the questions that my teachers were asking. And I had to translate the whole time!” She blabbered.

I shook my head and smiled. My sister had basically summarized exactly what had happened in my conference. I think that my dad’s lack of speaking English didn’t just affect me but also my sister.

My dad grew up speaking Bengali and was first introduced to English when we moved to Philadelphia. English as a second language was probably a huge a for him. A change much greater for him, than for my siblings or me. “language spoken in the family, especially in immigrant families which are more insular, plays a large role in shaping the language of the child” said Amy Tan. I think that what Amy Tan is trying to say is that speaking English in a family that that always speaks a different language changes who the person is. Just like my dad, who can be perfectly comfortable speaking Bengali but just as uncomfortable speaking English around those who speak it as their native language. From my experiences speaking Bengali and then learning English along with my family, I can definitely say language plays a big role in my life and it shapes who I am in the different characters that I play in life.

Language Digital Video: