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Ariel Dorfman's editorial from The New York Times makes an argument for the bilingual method of teaching youngsters English as opposed to the immersion method. With the implication that language is culture, Dorfman points to the traumatic experience that the immersion method produces as children are "imprisoned" in the new language and are "forced to cut ties to the syllables of their past culture." On the other hand, she argues, the bilingual method allows children to use what is in their past and make connections with the present learning experience.
Dorfman defends her position by recalling her own personal experiences of immersion which caused her to become divided in her loyalties and attitudes. When first forced to speak English all the time while in a hospital, she emerged speaking no Spanish and determined not to anymore. Then, some years later, her family moved to Chile and she could no longer deny her Spanish heritage. At this time, she vowed to never speak English, "the language of an imperial power out to subjugate Latin America." Later on, because of a military coup in the latin American country where her family had been, she returned to the United States and was completely bilingual, capable of thinking in one language and writing in another. This bilingualism aids her in understanding the nuances in either language, so that she can communitcate effectively. Moreover, this bilingual experience is a thrilling one that she wishes all Americans could share. For, being bilingual, Dorfman concludes, affords the individual to think dually and employ the nuances of meaning that express so well the speaker's intentions.
Here is a summation of her three major points:
1. The bilingual method of learning a foreign language does not isolate children in the original language, making them feel lost and neglected.
2. The immersion method demands that a child cut ties to "the syllables of their past culture."
3. While both methods work, immersion is the better because it allows for continued comprehension of both languages, their nuances and subleties. These language experiences comfort and enhance language experience.
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