Language is one of the most significant aspects in the life of every person. People use language to communicate, share their thoughts, express inner emotions, etc. It is hard to image our life without language, and people try to master it within a short period of time. There are many ways of how a person can learn language and consider own identity. Though it is pity to admit, still, language learning usually depends on racial, social, ethical, and many other factors. Malcolm X’ Coming to an Awareness of Language and Richard Rodriguez’s Hunger of Memory may serve as good examples of how to master language in different societies and consider identity. These works show how important any language is and how crucial not to lose an opportunity to learn language. Malcolm X and Rodriguez explain a worth of language learning through different methods: the former uses the ideas of freedom and imprisonment, abilities and ambitions, and the latter describes the peculiarities of a bilingual society and the necessity to respect own roots and identity.
Not all people really understand a true worth of language learning as they regard a chance to study as something usual and even trivial. It is difficult to imagine that some people face unbelievable challenges mastering languages. As a rule, these challenges are based on social, ethical, religious, or economic factors or even imprisonment like it happened to Malcolm X. He introduces a situation where an uneducated person strives to gain understanding of the world around and uses language as a weapon. In his turn, Rodriguez underlines the difficulties a person faces studying language and living freely in a bilingual society. These authors make an attempt to explain the reader the power of knowledge. Even if they use different approaches, their lessons turn out to be of the same importance.
One of the main differences between the experiences Malcolm X and Rodriguez described in their work is the way of how they come to the conclusion about the importance of education. Malcolm X (2001) “happened to stumble upon starting to acquire some kind of a homemade education” (para.9) while writing his letters to different people. Rodriguez (2004) faces another problem: “it is not possible for a child – any child – ever to use his family’s language in school” (para.5), this is why he was forced to learn a new language to become a part of society. These stories prove that the reasons to study language may be different, still, the outcome is the same – learning is important.
Another peculiar feature of the stories under consideration is the methods used by two writers to master the language. Rodriguez (2004) concentrates on listening “to hear the very different sounds of Spanish and English” (para. 11). Malcolm X’s (2001) experience is based on “slow, painstaking, ragged handwriting” (para.15) that makes him fascinated with every action done. Rodriguez and Malcolm X explain not only why they decided to improve their language. They give clear definitions of what language means and how it is better to learn it.
The authors also admit the necessity to consider personal identity while learning language. If Rodriguez addresses his memories all the time in order not to forget who he is and where he is from, Malcolm X says that human identity depends on the level of knowledge got. If a person is able to learn better and get to know more words and writing techniques, his/her identity may become exemplary for the others.
In general, Malcolm X and Rodriguez offer interesting approaches to learning English and considering identity. They do not impose their opinions or try to teach the reader. Their main goal is to describe their own ways of language learning: Malcolm X underlines the importance of personal desire in education and the abilities to achieve great goals, and Rodriguez focuses on the traditions which make people study and improve their level of knowledge. And the reader has to make personal conclusions on how and why English or any other language has to be learnt.
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