Linguistic Background (Judy Barant)

Although I was born and raised in and around New York City, my parents emigrated here from Russia in the late 80’s making me a first generation American. My parents moved here with almost no comprehension or capacity for the English language. However, like many other immigrants to New York, they initially moved in with family that had emigrated earlier and had established themselves to some extent. My father and mother both learned most of their initial spoken English through watching television. Both my parents attended graduate programs here and were able to get a better understanding of English, especially in its written form. My mother in particular even did some speech therapy some years later in order to lessen her accent so she could speak to her patients in a way she felt would be more professional.

Since my parents hadn’t yet lived here very long when I was born, and my grandmother looked after me most of my infancy and childhood my first language was Russian. I only began to learn English when I began attending kindergarten, having prior only attended a Russian preschool. My mother told me that it was no hinderance to me and I picked up English almost immediately, speaking better english than my parents in only a few months. Although I could speak Russian fluently, only my grandmother had tried to teach me to both read and write as well. As I attended more school, spent less time with my grandmother, and spent more time with english speaking friends I didn’t get to practice my Russian as often. I do still speak Russian fairly well, however I can sense that I’m slowly losing and forgetting words as it becomes more difficult for me to speak without thinking. I don’t believe I have an accent in English at all, other than a New York dialect maybe, but I do have a small American accent when speaking Russian because I use it less often now.

I have a deep appreciation for having the rich cultural background I have and the ability to speak two different languages; even though that wasn’t so much the case when I was a child. I was never embarrassed or isolated but rather indifferent to these apsects of my life. My life at home was very different from most kids I knew but because I was lucky enough to grow up in the melting pot of New York City I knew I wasn’t alone and that many of my peers also had various cultural backgrounds and rituals at their homes as well. I didn’t feel so different from other people regardless if our cultural background was the same, we could relate not to speaking the same language but just to being different.

The older I got the more grateful I was for being bilingual, my classmates and friends thought it was cool, egging me on to say things as they tried to mimic them. Most importantly though, I began to recognize it as a part of my identity rather than just a skill I had. I became proud of my heritage and proud of being two different people in one even with the confusion it sometimes came with. It’s helped me make connections with people both socially and professionally, making friends with coworkers and managers for speaking the same language and sharing anecdotes about growing up with Russian parents. I have never not benefited from being bilingual and definitly hope to pass it onto my children as both a useful skill and something to tie them to their heritage.


Linguistic Background (Nicholas)

My name is Nicholas Padilla. I was born here in the USA. my mother move here from Nicaragua and my father was born here but my grandmother is from Colombia and my grandfather was from Puerto Rico. Which makes me Nicaraguan, Colombian and Puerto Rican. I am able to speak Spanish and would like to learn more about sign language. Although I do not have a major I do want focus on graphic design since I like to draw. My career goal is to be an animator or a comic book illustrator.

Arlene Torrenegra

As a child, I grew up speaking only Spanish until I got to elementary school. I began to learn English around the age of 4. Now, I speak both English and Spanish, as well as American Sign Language (ASL). I use both English and ASL at school (Spanish sometimes if it’s necessary). At home I use English to communicate with my siblings and Spanish with my parents. At work I use all languages but it’s mostly English. I do think I have an accent because I’ve had many people tell me that I do. I, myself don’t realize it and I actually try to listen to myself talk to see if it’s really true but it just sounds normal to me. Being multilingual is something beneficial that can have a positive impact on people. It has personally been beneficial to me for the simple fact that I’m able to understand others and others are able to understand me when speaking languages other than English. There’s nothing better than being able to help others when they’re not able to understand a certain language.

My own language (Linguistic Background)(izaac)

I would like to start off by saying that I’m multiracial which means that I might have a number of accents and dialects in my family. I speak Spanish, English, Portuguese sort of and I understand Italian and besides that I am able to communicate to my family and close friends in jeringoza which is most common used in Spanish but somehow I added to English, when I’m at home I speak Spanish, spanish jeringoza and English, when I’m free I watch Brazilian videos and when I hang out with Brazilian people I speak Portuguese with an accent which I like because it’s like a put a part of me when I speak and at last like I’ve mentioned I’m multiracial and part of it is Italian so I love the music and more things so I would watch those kind of things and understand. In my opinion being able not to speak but communicate with others using another language is really helpful to understand and get to know better somebody by the way they comfortably speak it. I do have an accent but actually its mine accent since I’ve put together all of my capability of speak in each of those languages. It doesn’t really affect me the fact of me having an accent indeed I am proud and I love it mucho.

My Linguistic Background (Karina)

When it comes to communication I feel like I’m a mess. I don’t know how people understand me sometimes. My first language is English and I grew up in a Dominican home so we spoke Spanish most of the time. I wasn’t aware of  an accent when I spoke Spanish until my early twenties when I was told I sound Puerto Rican. I would put a face and say,” Na, I’m Dominican.” Give me a drink and throw on some bachata,you wouldn’t mistake it. I didn’t even realize I spoke really fast (Dominican stereotype) until high school.Guess I would get nervous or something. Sometimes I get kind of eager or excited and my voice even changes a bit; been told I sound like a cartoon character. I grew up in Bushwick before it was gentrified, so sometimes I’d speak with, let’s call it a little sass . My Spanish speaking has gotten better and I’m still learning new words so I can translate when needed to. Like at work, I can use my formal Spanish/English dialect and then that mumbling that’s my normal dialect where people just smile and pretend they know what I said.

Linguistic background (Agustin Valente)

Dominating two languages is an amazing skill especially it's more than two languages. I speak two languages fluently Spanish and English, but i’m currently learning two more languages Korean and Chinese. I got an interest in learning languages since I was young, I would hear different languages and I liked hearing whether it was outside, in TV or at school. The first language I got interested was Korean, just because it was different something that I have not heard before so I decided to learn Korean I started out learning by myself and I went into college taking classes and from there I decided to take Chinese to try it out, and from what I have experienced Korean is more easier than Chinese  One thing that I have noticed so far during these years is that I often forget some Spanish and English word but I clearly remember in a different language. There is a disadvantage when forgetting Spanish, I can’t help my parents when they need an interpreter so I decided to see Spanish TV and I speak a lot of Spanish at home only unless i'm with Spanish speaking friends.In school I speak mainly English but also Korean for my class. When speaking Spanish I do have a different way of speaking I speak formal and informal I would say I have an accent with English the most in the morning especially if I finished talking Spanish to someone, but when it comes to  Korean and Chinese I definitely think I have an accent I hear myself very robotic. That is a basic way of putting my knowledge of my languages. 

Linguistic Background (Daysi)

As a kid, the first language I ever learned was Spanish. My parents only spoke Spanish back then so it was the only language I knew of at the time. It was when I started preschool that I was first exposed to English.  As a child, picking up the language was pretty easy. I found myself speaking English to my friends and brother which made up the majority of the time. I listened to music in English, I watched cartoons in English, I read books in English, and before I knew it almost everything I did was in English. Only with my parents and when their friends or extended family came over was I required to speak Spanish. 

Dont get me wrong, I dont think I could ever forget Spanish and no matter what it will always be a part of me, but because I dont speak it so often ive noticed that when I do its become a bit harder to communicate well with it. I often find it hard to express what im trying to say, and feel that even though I can hold a conversation, I cant seem to truly get out what im trying to say.

Recently I got a job that from time to time requires me to speak Spanish to customers. It’s there that I get to practice my Spanish. I’ve also recently made a friend who’s main language is Spanish and mainly speaks to me in Spanish although he also speaks English. I often find myself responding in English but  I’m doing my best to stop that, and trying to challenge myself into communicating in solely Spanish.

  As for dialects, I believe that I speak multiple ones. Some in English, some in Spanish. But honestly I don’t know if I’d categorize it as a dialect but more as my way of speaking and expressing myself through language. 

Linguistic Background (Gary)

I speak only two different types of languages English and Creole.  I normally use both languages on a day to day basis whether it is at home, work, and sometimes even out in public. Growing up in Brooklyn and moving around a lot as a child I picked up on a few forms of dialect with certain people I’ve come across.  Coming from various different neighborhoods I would notice the sort of style people would use to talk amongst their peers and how people would communicate with one another. I have definitely picked up the various forms of dialect that I’ve come across up until my current age. I believe learning these forms of languages has aided me in being the social person that I am. They have also aided me in being more open and understanding when it comes to things that transpire in my life.

Linguistic Background (Christopher Diaz)

When it comes to my linguistic background, I can speak, read and write English and Spanish fluently. When I was smaller, I didn’t know how to speak Spanish at all. Not even one word. I was able to learn it in my time living in the Dominican Republic. Interestingly enough, people tell me that when I speak Spanish, they don’t hear any accent at all. They would expect for me to speak Spanish with some sort of American accent since my first language is English but according to them I don’t. I live by myself so the I speak English mostly at home but when I’m at my mother’s house in DR or my aunt’s house then I speak Spanish all the time. When I was living in DR, since I spoke mostly Spanish, my English was starting to fade a little bit. I remember that when my dad used to tell me things in English, I would answer him in Spanish and that would get him upset because he didn’t want my English to fade. Now that I have been living here for a long time, my Spanish has developed a bit of an accent and certain things that were east for me to say back then, now I get a little tongue tied or I just say it in English instead. What I like about my Spanish is that when I speak it, people automatically know where im from. I feel stronger and closer to my Dominican roots than my American so it makes me feel happy that my second language can be traced to my country. Nowadays, when my mother speaks to me in Spanish, I answer her in English most of the time.

Linguistic Background (Shanté)

I only speak English, but my family is from Jamaica. Growing up I spoke with a Jamaican accent which is called patois. Most Americans call it “broken English”, but I didn’t speak in a clear English accent until I started going to school. I think of patois more as dialect than another language because of the way we speak, we have different saying for things that people wouldn’t understand but it’s English. I still have my accent and it comes sometimes when I say certain words. It especially comes out when I’m talking really fast or when I’m angry. When I’m home or talking to my mom my accent comes out more and fluently. I also have a New York accent which people from other states automatically recognize whenever you speak to them. Their favorite thing to say is “Oh, you’re from New York”. Us New Yorkers have a very distinct accent and dialect which can also be our slang. That’s the only way I think it affects me because will know where I’m from when I speak.

My Linguistic background (Jermaine Williams)

My ethnic background is Jamaican so in my home my parents spoke to us in Patois but me and my sister spoke mainly in English at home and at School. I studied Spanish for three years and I speak it when ever I get a chance to. I also studied French for one year but need to practice. I do not believe I have an accent that is not native to New York City, that being said I’ve been told certain words give away a Patois influenced lingusitic background.

Linguistic Background (Arushi)

I migrated to the US at the age of 12 with my family and only spoke my native language, which is Bengali. Back in Bangladesh I studied English a little bit—mostly learning the alphabets and spelling words. I was first fully exposed to English language when I began school here. However, I did not begin to speak English then; it took me few years. While I was learning English at school in New York, I continued practicing Bengali. At age thirteen, I wrote my first poem in Bengali, and since then I realized I have fully developed the way I read, write or speak in Bengali. During my conversation in the early days in America I used to translate English to Bengali first in my head, think in Bengali what to say in response, translate it to English, and then respond. I still do that sometimes. English is foreign to me and no matter what other languages I learn the feelings that I get while reading Bengali literature is never the same. It is sweet to my ears and I feel content reading it. English as my second language is definitely an advantage for me to be able to communicate with the students, teachers, and community. I was selected to be the president of a Bengali Student Association in High School. I was hired at HSBC multinational bank simply because I was bilingual in addition to my experiences.

At home I speak a dialect of Bengali language known as Noakhali with my family, and with my friend I speak standard Bengali. Over time I realized when I do not practice my native language on a regular basis it takes me some time to recall certain words. Usually when I speak Bengali people from the community cannot tell by my accent as to what part of Bangladesh I am from. I sometimes play around and make jokes telling otherwise. Bengali poets are astonished to discover my Bengali poems. They say the feeling and emotion my poetry contains are simply breathtaking. They simply cannot believe that I was able to hold on to my native language so well. Despite many other priorities in my daily life I yet managed to learn a little Spanish, which helps me to navigate in a Spanish speaking countries when I travel.  Thus, language is a powerful tool anywhere in the world.

Linguistic Background (Maria)

A person able to communicate and understand two languages ​​is a person with super powers. My first language is Spanish and for me learning English was always a challenge. I never felt comfortable speaking in English because I used to think that my accent was constantly ruining everything I wanted to say. What I did not understand before was that language is something beautiful and unique, each person speaks it in a different way and that is exactly what makes us unique and special. At home, we always speak in Spanish to teach my little siblings that speaking Spanish is also important and necessary. However, that made my process of learning English a little harder and longer because the only place I needed it at that time was at school. When I started working, that changed because at work I had to speak in English since I had to interact with different people of different nationalities. That’s when I realized that there was not a single reason why I would be ashamed of my accent. Some people tried to correct the way I say certain words, but that does not affect me anymore because that is what makes me different from the rest.

Linguistic Background (Peter)

           Hello my name is Piotr Golda I speak two languages, my first language was polish then later on I learned English. It all started from my parents that lived in Poland most there life, then later on moved to America. This was difficult for them because they had to learn a new language all over again. When I was young I would spend a lot of time with my grandparents and all I knew was how to speak polish at the time. This became a problem because I was starting to go to school in New York not knowing how to communicate in English, with time I learned both and speak them fluently. What I am noticing is that some times when I am speaking at home  I tend to mix the languages i think that is because i can explain a topic better in one language than the other. In the book “Language Myths” it talks about accents and how people misinterpret certain ideas because of it or do not know what the word actually means. 

Linguistic background (Cristal)

ELL 101  





                                                          LINGUISTIC BACKGROUND 

Knowing more than one language has helped me break barriers in life, it has allowed me to engulf into different cultures. Growing up knowing two languages has been very beneficial. Having parents that only spoke one language at home and learning a different language in school allowed me to take part in two different heritages. Our linguistic practices at home consisted of trying to speak Spanglish more often once we started taking bilingual classes in school. Learning different languages at a young age affected the way I communicated with others, many said they could not understand me in Spanish while others said I spoke broken Spanish (whatever that means). Being bilingual made me a stronger contestant when it came to defending myself, whether it was for job interviews or when it came to translating for someone that needed help. My bilingualism has helped me achieve many goals professionally when it comes to networking and my personal life as well. Everyone has a different point of view when it comes to dialects, at home I speak Spanglish with my family. As discussed in the classroom, the U.S does not have an official language, from my experience many foreign people think English is the main language because the majority of people speak it.  When it comes to school and work, I speak English to communicate better with my fellow co-workers. Majority of my family has a slight accent, when it comes to speaking English, I’ve learned how to rotate my social and professional accent when needed. Living in the U.S you encounter people from many different backgrounds, so it would be beneficial to know more than one lang

Talking more than a language is fun! (Minhazur)

I have learned many linguistic definition and enjoyed  ELL 101 since it is started. I understood some controversial definitions of language, dialect and accent, and I really enjoyed the arguments about these topics. Mostly at home I speak in a  dialect which is my mother tongue. I never knew that it is a dialect until I attend this class. Bangla is my native language, beside that I can speak English and Arabic. I learned Arabic at high school, and I don’t want to forget this language. So I made some arabic friends for practicing the language. In college and work mostly  I speak English, and it become easier to speak English since I started college. When I speak native Bangla, sometimes I mix it with my native dialect. I am a little public speaker in my native language, but people can easily figure out where I am from by listening my accent. It embarrassed me a lot. Talking more than a language is interesting for me, and I enjoy it.  

My language background (Lee Songhui)

I speak two languages which are Korean and English.  I speak English more than Korea in my present life.  This is because I just speak Korean with my family at home.  Being bilingual is actually valuable to me in America, especially in New York, because I can have more job opportunity and help to translate  Korean people who can not speak English.  These affect me because I can communicate more broadly and meet more people. But at the same time I have my own struggles. Since Korean and English have very different grammatical structure I have trouble forming sentences in English.  Also, Korean people have strong accents, so in my previous classes, all professors recognized me as Korean even before I introduced myself.

Linguistic Background (Akhda)

I speak two languages, these two languages are Bangla and English. I think Im better at speaking English than Bangla because English is used everywhere I go, while Bengali is what I speak at home, only with my dad. Though I speak two, I can understand 4 in total. I can also understand Urdu and Hindi. I learned these two languages by watching Indian TV shows since I was very young. I think that knowing more than one language is definitely a huge benefit because you can communicate with people from more than one country. Im not sure how often that comes in handy, but when it does, it feels good. My parents are from two different districts in Bangladesh and these two districts are known to speak two different dialects. I was raised only speaking my moms dialect, which is known as formal Bangla. My father is from a place where his dialect is known as less intelligent, because its a village area. I never learned how to speak his dialect but I can recognize it instantly. Being born in New York, I would never be able to tell that I have a New York accent, because it sounds so normal to me, it’s what I hear all around me. It wasn’t until I met my friend from Philadelphia and she pointed out the differences in the way that we both speak and the speeds we speak at. I take pride in my New York accent honestly. I don’t know the exact reason why but I’m glad that out of all the accents, this is the one that I own.