“Mother Tongue” is about Amy Tan’s struggle to relate and empathize with her mother’s “broken” English. Since a young girl, the author had been exposed to the poor treatment her mother received for her English speaking skills like not being heard nor understood. This experience had negatively affected Tan into thinking that her mother was less than because of her “low” English level. As a result Tan says that her mother’s capabilities stunted her personal growth in the English language leading to low IQ and SAT scores because “a person’s developing language skills are more influenced by peers.” As Tan grew into a strong writer she came to understand that her mother isn’t less than because her English doesn’t suit societal norms.
I can strongly relate to Amy Tan because I too had these feelings with my mother. My mother would try to speak English, but always encountered someone who just couldn’t get passed her Spanish accent, so she’d call on me to translate her concerns; at parent teacher conferences, doctor’s appointments, etc. As I got older I realized my mother had been properly addressing herself, but the confused stares from others stunted her confidence and only kept her further away from the language. Through my personal experiences with opposing cultural prospectives when it comes to the English language I’ve learned to appreciate everyone’s varying English stages. The differences signify strength and courage because It’s difficult to assimilate to a country where your mother tongue is seen as less than. Despite the varying accents and sentence structures, being able to communicate in a new language needs to be applauded not dismissed.