“Bilingual/Bilingue” Explication

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Movements for bilingual education rose in 1974 with the Equal Education Opportunity Act and Bingual Education Act, which ordered federally funded schools to meet special educational needs for students not proficient in English. Unfortunately, dropout rates and lack of English-language proficiency alarmed the states that these bilingual programs were not efficent. Because of this, arguments between English-only advocates and supporters of bilingual educations emerged. Articles such as the New York Times have proclaimed the failures of bilingual education. One cause could be the resistance of immigrants from English language acquisition, who hold tight onto their first language and culture. Despite this, studies show that generations following the immigrants increasingly became more fluent in English. The differences between immigrants and their following generations can be clearly seen in a brilliant poem written by a compassionate and hard working woman of the 20th century. Struggling to to accept her father’s way of separating English from Spanish, Rhina Espaillat, in her poem, “Bilingual/Bilingue”, shows a personal account of the realities of bilingualism and how it is possible to overcome language and culture barriers to learn a second language. As the speaker, Espailat uses rhyming couplets to make “Bilingual/Bingue,” the nine stanzas, eighteen lines poem, flow smoothly. In the first three stanzas, she starts out by describing her father’s view on bilingualism, the ability to use two languages. “My father liked them separate, one there, / one here(allá y aquí), as if aware // that words might cut in two his daughter’s heart / (el corazón) and lock the alien part // to what he was – his memory, his name / (su nombre) – with a key he could not claim” (lis 1-6). Espaillat tries to show her awareness of her fathers concern for english interference to her spanish culture through the metaphor of cutting his daughter’s heart in two. He fears that his daughter...
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