Phase 1


The Language and Literacy Narrative was a smooth introduction into our FIQWS class because we got to explore a certain moment in our life that could’ve impacted how we view language and literacy. The specific moment I chose was with my grandma because she’s a huge part of my life and has forever impacted how I view the English language as well as my native language. Because language is such a huge part of everyday life, I mention how it is important to learn from certain experiences, and how to take them and build something bigger, something that fuels your fire. As for most immigrants or minority groups aren’t represented enough and given credit in this country, those who have an opportunity to give them a voice should be considered lucky to have a chance to stand up for them.

Who Are YOU?

“Never forget where you came from.” It’s something that’s been drilled into my head since I was young, and that I still hear today.

I never realized the importance of that saying until one day when my abuela asked me, “Que estas leyendo?” I noticed that I had been sitting down on the floor of my room reading for about an hour. It was unusual of her to ask me that because she and my mother would always just stay out of my way when it came to my studies (since they couldn’t do anything to help me if I needed it). I wanted to tell her, but instead I just sat there looking at her trying to find the words to explain to her about a needy mouse that wanted a cookie. She then said, “So, are you just faking being able to read?” I stared at her in frustration with tears in my eyes. I did understand it, I just couldn’t translate it. My abuela is a very tough and headstrong individual and sometimes I just don’t know how to deal with her commentary. I asked myself why it felt like rocket science having to translate a language I already knew. I assumed that it was because she was confused as to why I was already able to read English when I had just come to the United States a year prior. Of course, my English wasn’t perfect but by the first year of being here, I was able to hold conversations with others. My abuela is such an important person in my life and being able to talk to her and for her to understand me is essential. Being able to not talk to her like I usually do felt like I let myself and her down and I was embarrassed of myself that I wasn’t able to translate it for her.

 That night I decided to take out a book that was way above the skill-level I knew how to read. “Marley and Me” by John Grogan, not only brought tears to my eyes because of its tragic ending but because I knew that it was more of a challenge for me to read. I felt my grandma’s words echoing in the back of my head. You could say that it was either motivation or stubbornness that got me to finish that book. My mom had a handheld translator in which we could type the word, and it would give us the translation and definition. That suddenly became my best friend as I would carry it everywhere with me. It took me a while to finish the book, but after weeks of typing in words into the translator, I was finally able to say I had read it completely. But what was the point of me doing this if my grandma didn’t know? I came up with the idea to write a little summary of what the book was about in Spanish so that I could give to her. When I finished, I walked over to her and she asked, “You wrote this?” with a perplexed look on her face. I nodded. She handed it back to me and went back to what she was doing, but I know that I had surprised her. As the years go on, this memory has yet to be forgotten. Striving to do unimaginable things in my life that I never thought I would be able to accomplish is my source of motivation. My abuela’s word originally hurt because I believed that she doubted what I knew, but it only pushed me to work harder.

As a young girl, my abuelas words hurt me, but now I see it differently. It motivated me to push myself not only to be more consistent with my work but also to never forget my roots, my Spanish language. I’m Salvadoran, I was born in El Salvador and I grew up speaking Spanish. This is a part of my identity and I should never be ashamed of it. When I go online and I look for jobs, I always almost see, “seeking a bilingual person,” and more often than not, it’s a Spanish speaking individual they are looking for. It is essential nowadays to know a second language, you can’t always assume a person knows English just because we are in America. This resonates with me because I know my mother asks for a person who speaks Spanish when she has something urgent to say. I know that she isn’t the only one with this problem, and it’s unfortunate when an individual isn’t being able to get the help they need. This made young Fatima motivated to work in both languages and that English is just as important as Spanish, especially because it’s the language I speak at

My Spanish language is being kept alive by my family. For example, my abuela only knows Spanish, so I have no other choice but to talk to her in that language. My mom and dad talk to each other in Spanish at home, and sometimes when I can’t say something in Spanish, we use “Spanglish.” Here we mix both languages in the same sentence without hesitation. Slowly without realizing it, the Spanish I grew up with isn’t going to be the same one I teach my kids years down unless I take the initiative and learn it as well as I do with English. Abuela is one of the only people in my family who doesn’t know English and now I realize how frustrating it was for her for me not being able to tell her what the story was about when I was younger. It’s almost as if she was missing out on a part of her life that she wasn’t able to fix or adjust to easily. I had the advantage of going to school and practicing every day when she didn’t, and this is something I realized as I got older.

Language is a huge part of our everyday life because it’s the way you communicate with people. I’ve come to acknowledge that it’s especially important now to know more than one language because there will be a generation after us that will most likely be accustomed to the English language but at the end of the day I feel like it is our responsibility to teach them their roots. If they don’t know who they are and where they came from, that language and culture will disappear as the generations go on. One can adapt to an environment well, but that doesn’t mean to let go of everything they first knew.  It doesn’t have to be with words, because there’s sign language for people who are deaf and there’s braille for people who are blind. We use our words to express ourselves, to communicate our ideas. From the very first words your parents teach you, whether it be mama or papa, to those SAT words you’re cramming in your brain before the exam, language is everywhere. It’s unavoidable and it should be recognized. Language is forever changing with society, it doesn’t matter what language you speak, but the most important part is to never forget where you came from. This is what makes you the unique individual you are.