This I Believe

Timmy - Brookline, Massachusetts
Entered on September 25, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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“Xie Xie!” Most people say this when they want to thank Asians and are unsure of whether the Asians speak English or not. The language of Chinese interests many new people everyday and has become one of the best ways to get in touch with the country that marks most products, “Made in China.” I believe that my ability to speak more than one language is important for my current and future existence. I speak Chinese with my family at home. I communicate with friends, teachers, and other people in my daily life with English. I grew up learning Chinese and English at the same time. Being able to speak these two languages gives me the freedom to communicate with more people. I could speak to anyone at school, or I could speak to any random man on the streets of China.

At home, Speaking Chinese with my mother, father, and sister on a daily basis is normal matter. My mother and father are from China. Even after living in America for over two decades, they only understand and speak so much English. As of today they continue to prefer to speak Chinese at home. Not speaking Chinese to my family would make me a separate human being, and not apart of the family. Growing up in my home, full of Chinese words flowing around each and every day of my life, I learned to speak and understand it myself. I visit China frequently because I have family living there. In China most of my relatives do not speak a word of English. Some of my cousins even asked me to teach them English because one day they will be immigrating and will need to know English. Because I knew both English and Chinese, I had an advantage, which I realized big time while in China. I speak Chinese to my grandmother, grandfather, aunts, uncles, and cousins. If I couldn’t speak any Chinese, I would feel very excluded and miss out on all the jokes and important matters within the family.

During my daily life, I frequently use English to communicate. In America the most commonly used language is English. Luckily I was born in America and went to an elementary school where teachers held a Chinese Bilingual program to help improve my English. The ability to speak with the people that surrounded me everyday outside of my home grew critical. If I couldn’t speak English, I wouldn’t be able to learn most of the things taught in classes. Almost every class is taught in English, even the foreign language classes.

Because I can speak something besides English I have the ability to translate for others. I could use this skill to my advantage while doing community service or even help me get further in my career because the demand for numbers of fluent foreign language speakers increases each year. Back in elementary school, a lot of new students from China would come every year. Many of them could barely speak English. I, being able to translate, helped when I could during class by explaining certain activities and homework assignments. I also helped translate their words to the teacher. Speaking more than one language makes me a unique person.

My ability to speak two languages expands my ability to communicate. I can understand what a teacher tells me. I can speak to my friends. I can talk to my family at home. Language helps to show what a person believes or thinks. If I could only speak one language, then I believe I wouldn’t be the same person.