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Multiculturalism Narrative, Essay Example

Pages: 3

Words: 909

Essay

Language plays a large part in being a Multicultural student in an English speaking country. If you are attempting to use language that you are not accustomed to sometimes it can be difficult for others to understand what you are trying to communicate. This is an issue covered by Amy Tan in regards to her mothers broken English. Amy Tan is an American author. Her work covers mainly mother and daughter relationships and she is best known for her book The Joy Luck Club. In the example article Tan speaks about problems suffered by her mother because of her broken English.  Although I feel that both my written and speaking English is good I have on occasion run into issues regarding communicating with others and unfortunately this can make some people inpatient or disrespectful towards me.

For example during a shopping trip several months ago I was attempting to order various brands of sweets from behind the counter and the cashier was struggling slightly to understand what I was trying to communicate. After several minutes of this I was becoming embarrassed and the woman was becoming increasingly exasperated to the point where she developed a negative attitude and began to show signs of simply wanting me to leave as quickly as possible. By this point there was a rather large queue that was building up behind me. Thankfully, another woman standing behind me understood me a little better and chipped in and explained to her what I was attempting to say. I did not feel that I was being unclear in my speech but some of my pronunciation had obviously caused her some confusion. I left feeling embarrassed but this incident has made me more determined to improve my skills to avoid causing this level of frustration again and also to avoid a repeat of the level of embarrassment I felt.

This incident causes me to identify strongly with Amy Tan’s mother during the part of the extract from The Mother Tongue where she visit’s the hospital for CAT scan results for a suspected brain tumour. Her mother appears to have been treated with a low level of respect because of her imperfect English. However when Amy calls the hospital she is given a higher level of respect than her mother and an apology for the loss of the CAT scan.

Amy Tans mother like me did not feel that her English was inadequate which is illustrated by Amy when she says “ She said she had spoken very good English, her best English no mistakes “. (  Tan, Amy. Mother Tongue. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print. Page 49 ).

The hospitals apparent lack of respect for this woman is illustrated in the following quote “ The hospital did not apologize when they said they had lost the CAT scan and she had come for nothing. She said they did not seem to have any sympathy when she told them she was anxious to know they exact diagnosis since her husband and son had both died of brain tumours “.(  Tan, Amy. Mother Tongue. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print. Page 49 ). I find this attitude quite shocking and whilst I understand that the hospital could not give her the information she requested she should at the very least have received an apology for the loss of the test results.

The incidents suffered by both me and Amy Tans mother although different are still similar to each other. Both were caused by a breakdown in communication with professional staff but my breakdown in communication was only between myself and a cashier whilst shopping  whilst Tans mothers incident was between herself and a doctor a person with whom communication is essential for her health.

These two incidents both mine and the one belonging to Amy Tans mother clearly show the potential hardships facing Multilingual people. Clear communication is a vital part of daily life and failing to have this skill can cause a wealth of problems with daily life not just with shopping but also with other tasks such as communicating with doctors and health professionals and even in extreme cases the police or fire service. People with customer service based jobs will also struggle if their English is not up to standard, as this will make dealing with their customers difficult.

The best way I feel that people who are multilingual to solve this problem is to study the language at home and keep an open ear at work. These people should study how people from the other culture act and speak and work to mimic their interactions. Also practicing what they have learned on family and friends who can speak the language more clearly will also help as this will help people to gain feedback on exactly why they are experiencing problems and allow them to work towards rectifying these issues in the future.

Also staff could receive more extensive training in dealing with foreign customers and customers with any sort of communication problems to help to avoid issues like the ones suffered by me and by Amy Tan’s mother.

Overall I feel that the problems such as the ones suffered by myself and Amy Tans mother will unfortunately remain in place for a long time yet and are issues that each of of us who is Multilingual and struggles with a new language must overcome. However there are long term solutions and I have talked about them in this essay.

Citation Page

Tan, Amy. Mother Tongue. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print

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