Within a novel named The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, the man is finally able to bring his wife and child over from Mexico and into the United States. In the process, her child begins to pick up English from watching television. I myself can understand the pain and sadness that the man’s wife felt as she heard the child speak English. She fears the growing gap between the man and the baby boy with herself, as they have both assimilated and are adopting the American culture and the English language. She feels that it will become tough to communicate with both of them as it is hard for her to speak English.
I can compare that to my own Vietnamese grandparents, whom have immigrated from Vietnam to the United States two decades ago. Being born and raised in the United States, I have strong grasp on the English language, but not so much with Vietnamese. As kids grow older, they drift away from their elder’s native language, choosing to speak mostly English. From a survivalist stance, there is nothing wrong with this. To survive and live in a country where the official language is English, you at least need decent conversation skills. But from a relationship stance, if the elder generations don’t speak English very well, it can be hard to communicate and build a strong relationship. And so, I decided to revisit my roots, to master the Vietnamese language. While there are some misunderstandings here and there, I can learn from them and become even better.