The Positive Attitude of Multilingual People in America

The Positive Attitude of Multilingual People in America

Document details
Category: Linguistics Essay
Subcategory: Historical Linguistics
Words: 2563
Pages: 11

In American society, monolingualism is the norm, causing some to view multilingualism as a disadvantage. This opinion is not held, however, by those who have had the opportunity to learn and gain proficiency in multiple languages. Despite what negative social pressures and problems going against English monolingualism might bring, many multilingual people in America still feel their linguistic capabilities are an advantage to them. My interviewee, Sophia, is one such bilingual speaker. Sophia is a Chinese international student, fluent in both Chinese and English, who came to the United States for high school and, now, university. Overall, she has positive feelings about her bilingual identity, claiming that it allows her to interact with a wide range of individuals and provides her with more options in life. Despite this positive attitude, she also explained how her Chinese identity caused her to feel alienated in America, partially due to her status as a non-native speaker of English. Sophia is currently a first-year student at Northwestern University from Shenzhen, China. She identifies as Chinese, having been raised in China and spending her time out of school there the last several years. She was born and raised in Shenzhen, learning Chinese from birth from her family who speak no English. She acquired Chinese first, but began learning English in school as well during kindergarten and considers herself to be equally competent in both languages. Due to learning both Chinese and English in school and informally, Sophia has developed fairly full fluency and literacy in both languages. She uses each language for different purposes and in different situations, mostly based on whether the subject is more related to her Chinese or American background. Additionally, she has a passive competence of Japanese from consuming Japanese media and French from taking courses in high school. Before coming to America, Sophia had been learning English along with Chinese for about 9 years, leaving her with adequate fluency. As she says, she can read...

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