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My Parents Who Spoke Spanish on Regular Basis

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Tanya Barrientos main point is that her parents spoke Spanish to each other on a regular basis, but insisted she and her siblings speak, read and write only in English. As a young woman growing she didn’t understand why her parents wanted this, but she did know the reason. So as she grew older, she started to feel uncomfortable with the fact that she was not fluent in Spanish, even though she was born in Guatemala of a Latin heritage. To sign up six times to take a class, and buy wordbooks six times just to have insecurities about your skin color or facial features, shows someone who is very determined to learn her families language. How did Tanya Barrientos and her siblings feel while their parents spoke fluent Spanish, while they had to write, read and speak English?

The lesson that she learned as a teenager, when she told her father that she hated being called Mexican even though she was Guatemalan, would be a lesson she would never forget. Her father did not like what he was hearing, so he decided to let her see how beautiful Mexico is by sending her to Mexico City for the summer. It worked and to this day she is proud of her heritage. Because her childhood was different from other Latinos, she didn’t feel genuine. She bought tapes, hired tutors and still had problems with past and future tenses. Her friends would think she was bilingual because she could hold simple conversations for them in Spanish with other individuals, but as soon as someone starts speaking fluent Spanish to her she gets lost in the conversation and they would give her a certain look, like what’s wrong with her Spanish and making her feel like she didn’t belong to the Latino community.

Throughout her life doing everything possible to speak Spanish more fluently, she still wonders if there are other Latinas like her. They may be struggling to fit in or like Tanya, buying wordbooks and hiring tutors to learn a language most people assume they already know. I believe the writer’s purpose in her essay to her reader’s, was to let them know that just because your Latino and don’t speak Spanish fluently, doesn’t make you Latino any less than the next Latino. I think her audience is everyone especially other Latinos. I also feel she felt a little bit awkward while she was writing this essay. My emotional response to this essay is that I loved it, and it shows never to be ashamed of who you are.


Tanya Barrientos, Se Habla Español, The Mcgraw-Hill guide, writing for college, writing for life (pp.57-61)

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