What major counterarguments does Richard Rodriguez address in his essay "Aria: A Memoir of a Bilingual Childhood"?

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vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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In his essay “Aria: A Memoir of a Bilingual Childhood,” Richard Rodriguez questions the wisdom of the push for bilingual education.  Among the counter-arguments he considers are the following:

  • He initially defines bilingual education, in very neutral terms, as

a program that seeks to permit non-English-speaking children, many from lower-class homes, to use their family language as the language of school.

  • By implication, he suggests the argument that it is not possible to grow up among whites and still retain one’s Hispanic cultural identity.
  • By implication, he concedes the argument that members of minority groups often do face real discrimination from members of majority populations.
  • He concedes that it is possible for members of minority groups to feel alienated when participating in the culture of the “majority” group.
  • He implicitly concedes that not only minority children but even minority adults can feel intimidated when participating in the culture of the majority.
  • He explicitly concedes that

Supporters of bilingual education today imply that students like me miss a great deal by not being taught in their family’s language.

  • He implicitly concedes that Spanish-speaking students often feel afraid in English-based classrooms.
  • He concedes that when Spanish-speaking students are forced to speak English at school, they often lose their earlier senses of their homes as special places.
  • He concedes that if Spanish-speaking children learn to speak English, the entire family is affected in ways that lead to greater integration of the whole family with the culture of the majority.
  • He paraphrases bilingual educators who believe that Spanish-speaking children lose a certain amount of their individuality if they are forced to speak English.
  • He paraphrases bilingual educators as believing that minority students should be exposed to their cultural differences from majority culture.
  • He paraphrases bilingual educators who claim to want to ensure that children are well-educated.

In short, Rodriguez concedes, alludes to, and/or paraphrases the arguments of his opponents while still maintaining and arguing for his own contrary positions.