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Antonio Estevan Roman


Samantha Edmiston
ENGL 101
12 September 2016
Yo No Hablo Mucho Espanol, pero Entiendo Poquito Espanol
If you are reading this and comprehending it, then there is a good chance you are literate
in the English language. But have you ever stopped to think how you became literate in English?
When you became literate in the English language? Or how and when other people learn a
language in general? The traditional route that many people take is to just grow up around the
language. However, I did not take the traditional route.
I was born in Tucson, Arizona. Soon after my birth, my mother moved us to my
Grandmothers home in Guadalupe, Arizona, a small town outside of Phoenix. Guadalupe has a
majority Mexican and Native American population resulting in Spanish being a dominant
language within the community. My Great Grandmother strictly spoke Spanish with little to no
comprehension of the English language. Because of this, my bilingual mother only spoke
Spanish in the household. When my mother had to work, I stayed with my Great Grandmother;
naturally she spoke Spanish to me. This continued until we moved out of her home around the
age of two. We moved back to Tucson where we went to live with my Grandmother, my
mothers mother. This household was bilingual in nature where I continued to grow my Spanish
vocabulary and began to establish roots in the English language.
Reflecting on my early years of childhood, I realize that my environment was the greatest
influence in helping me acquire English in the manner I did. I feel that without growing up in
bilingual communities, I would not have progressed as far in the Spanish language. For example,

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in Guadalupe I had a lot of family and friends who were only literate in Spanish or were
bilingual. The type of environment and the people that I was around, rooted Spanish as my
primary language of communication.
To further build on the bilingual community that I grew up in is to elaborate on my
daily life in Guadalupe. My mother worked during the day, resulting in me staying with my
Great Grandmother or my Godmothers mother (bilingual, but dominant in Spanish) during the
day. This gave me a Spanish foundation in my earliest years of infancy; years where language
has the greatest lasting impression. Reflecting on this time period of my life, I feel that this
Spanish foundation created a path for me to adapt to the Spanish language as a child.
Once I began kindergarten in Tucson around the age of five, I was living in a household
that had some Spanish spoken with the dominant language being English. Spanglish would be
the best way to describe the dialect of English that was spoken, English structured sentences with
Spanish vocabulary sprinkled in. Starting kindergarten was my first real exposure to English
being spoken to me for the majority of the day. I had enough English comprehension for my
kindergarten class to learn without difficulty, but reading and writing were not my strong
subjects. I did however excel in mathematics. After only a few months in kindergarten, I was for
the most part speaking English at home. Because of this transition, my mother and other family
members at home began speaking more English to me. I feel that the change in my daily routine
really helped me transition into speaking English dominantly.
After the first grade was when I was strictly speaking English. At home I would speak
English and be responded to in English. I also did not really spend any significant time in
Guadalupe around this time as well. I feel this time was crucial in instilling an English-only
mindset. I vividly remember a particular trip I took to Guadalupe around the age of eleven. I was

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greeted at the door by Great Grandmother with the unfamiliar words Como estas hijo. I recall
looking to my mom for clarification. This was the start of a phase in my life where I ran away
from Spanish. I hid behind by Mom whenever someone approached me with Spanish; Including
my own family. I would look to my mom to translate and answer for me unless the answer was a
si o no question. At this point in my life, I would say I was completely illiterate in the Spanish
language.
By the start of the eighth grade I had the choice of taking journalism or Spanish. I felt this
was the perfect opportunity to reacquaint myself with Spanish. To my surprise, the class came
easy to me. Simple vocabulary and numbers came back along with a flood of memories from my
childhood. This was the beginning of a new chapter in my life. Before taking. After starting
Spanish in school, I would attempt to make as much small talk with the limited Spanish that I
knew along with the new Spanish that I had acquired in middle school. Como esta Nana?
Quires comer Tio? Donde esta el bano Tia? Simple, straight-forward questions helped me
grasp more vocabulary.
My Spanish literacy has since improved into what it is today. I can ask simple questions
and understand some small talk. When I am confronted with someone speaking Spanish to me, I
use the situations context to help me comprehend what is being asked or said. For example, at
work I was asked a qu hora empieza? Since we were at a concert and I understood that
hora was time, I knew the gentleman was referring to time. I responded with a qu dijiste to
see if I could catch anymore words I knew so I could understand the gentleman. He again asked
a qu hora empieza? and this time nodded to the stage. I finally reached the conclusion that he
was asking What time the show started. I used my knowledge of numbers and limited

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understanding of time to respond with Ocho y media. A gracias was rewarded for my answer
as he went on his way to enjoy the Soothing and loving voice of Marco Antonio Solis.
Looking back at my own experience with Spanish as well as others, I feel that there is a
trend with Spanish literacy and how many generations you represent within your family living in
the United States among Mexican Americans. For example, I am a third generation Mexican
American living in the United States. Some of my friends are fourth, fifth, and sixth generation
with no understanding of Spanish at all. I also know first, second, and third generation Mexican
Americans who are either fluent or somewhat knowledgeable of Spanish. I believe somewhere
along the generational lines, the language gets lost and not passed properly. One of my goals in
life is to improve my Spanish so that I can pass it on to my own children, without them forgetting
it by the age of five.
Being bilingual is a skill that not too many people possess. Its importance is greatly
increased in the environment that I live in today. I hope to continue my Spanish comprehension
to open up new opportunities for me in the future.

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