Comparison of Learning to read and write, and Mother tongue

Comparison of Learning to read and write, and Mother tongue

The essays of the Mother tongue by Amy Tan and How to Learning to read and write by Fredrick Douglas both talk on who they were helped and hurt by language. In the case of the Mother tongue, Amy Tan began noticing the kind of English language she spoke together with her mother. She also discusses how English aided him in faking his identity. On the other hand, Fredrick Douglas gives attributes to the English language for enabling him to grow into the personality that he is currently. Fredrick Douglas was born as a slave in Baltimore, and he was raised by his grandparents but rose up to be one of the most prolific writers.

The essay of Mother tongue and how to read and learn all are all based on stories of personal experience of the authors. Thus, the stories are written in a manner that the narrations and thoughts are the author’s thoughts and their feelings towards the stories. Both stories are therefore personal and open. Fredrick Douglas recounts on how he came to know how to read and learn despite being a slave Fredrick Doulas recounts on how Sophia-his master’s wife used to teach him on how to read when he was 12 years of age before she was warned against teaching him by the Baltimore slaveholder. After that, Fredrick Douglas continued to learn and know how to read through the white children and other characters in the surrounding(Koretsky, 2018). Amy Tan also shares her experience as an individual raised by a parent who speaks broken English. She talks on how one can improve their language also even if one comes from immigrant backgrounds as she was a first-generation American born to Chinese immigrants.

Both essays have main ideas projected throughout the story. The central concept in Amy Tan’s mother tongue is the limitations that broken English can cause in the community, and the richness of such English can imply on writing. Amy tan justifies the role of imperfect English by analyzing her mother’s language, her incorporation of English as a language and the response of society to various usage of English among multiple people. The title of the essay is an indication of non-standard English. Although Amy Tan is fluent in her native English, she considers her language as perfect.

On the contrary, Fredrick Douglas on his book how to learn and read man idea is to illustrate the struggles of reading and writing as a slave who is not supposed to learn and understand. Fredrick was trying to discuss the stigmatization surrounding the slaves on their efforts of becoming literate in their language. However, for the case of Fredrick Douglas, he learned on how to read and write through his master’s wife who helped her with identifying small letters before her husband warned her against teaching Fredrick Douglas. The reflection enabled Fredric to identify learning to read as a source of freedom to him. Therefore, the main idea of how to read and learn as a slave since the writer’s essence is to convince people to avoid slavery as it against human rights.

Fredrick Douglas and Amy Tan’s literacy writings and language helped them to succeed by reflecting on themselves. Fredrick Douglas, despite being a slave and facing opposition, he learned how to learn and read effectively. He faced opposition several times, but his determination did not let him despair thussucceeding in the literary works. Amy Tan on the other side learned more about the power of language, and it is the language that enabled her to achieve as a writer. Reflection upon oneselfenabled Fredrick to understand the events around such as he learned how to read when the little white boys began reading a book.

Both essays of Mother Tongue by Amy Tan and How to learn and read have the same theme of opposition. The theme of opposition and its functionality in building strength is well projected. Amy Tan was opposed inside her won instincts and thoughts. Amy Tan shows her lovefor writing and how living with a china family affected how she spoke and communicated in English. Amy Tan considered the English that her mother spoke as more mother tongue as less perfect. Tan thus experienced thistype of one-sided thinking regarding her language capabilities while she attended college and this made her take a different turn due to a reflection she did to her personality.

In contrast, Fredrick Douglas illustrates that he was born into slavery andhe had to dace his ignorance with a solution to overcome the difficulty. Fredrick Douglas faced oppositionfrom both the master and mistress of the house where he lived.However, Fredrick Douglas used all the possible means available to overcome ignorance and reshape his mind to the great treasures of knowledge(Bennett, 2016). The opposition is viewed as a fundamental step in learning procedures. In the essays of how toread and write, there is evidence that opposition helped the two authors to grow and identify their potential in the Englishlanguage.

Both essays have a specific appeal. In the essay of mother tongue by Amy Tan, there is an appeal of logic. The arguments are in line with the particular subject and make sense throughout the essay part. Amy Tan uses simple English that is easily understood. The examples that Amy tan uses to back up her statements are well articulated with the issue discussed. Amy narrates the stories of her mother dealing with the stockbroker and the hospital in essence of being clear in her literacy work. Amy Tan is a well-known writer. Similarly, in the essay of how to learn and read, there is no appeal in the context as it gives a personal recount of Fredrick Douglas from the time he was born a slave and how he came to thoroughly learn and read English properly despite facing all the opposition from his masters.

Both essays have their intended audience. The intended audience for the essay how to learnand read are majorly white people. Fredrick Douglas through his literacy works wanted to convince the whites of the adverse effects of slavery and propose to the whites on how slavery would be avoided. Fredrick Douglas wrote explicit political messages with the essence of seeking freedom to the slaves. Fredrick Douglas, however, wrote the book when slavery was still legalizedin the nation. This saw him even become a public speaker to help stop slavery (Looker, 2016). On the other side, the intendedaudience for Amy Tan in her essay mother tongue is her mother and other writers with an immigration history. The purpose of Amy Tan’s Mother tongue is to illustrate to writers about the interpretation and differentiationof Standard English and broken English (Tan, 2017).

In both essays of how to read and learn by Fredrick Douglas and Mother tongue by Amy Tan, there is a justification on the effects of background to the author’s writingstyles. Amy tan is a writer based in America but originated from China. This influenced her writing skills due to the values and norms of her mother who was born in China. Amy tan grew up hearing the predicament of the older generation as they came to America all the way from China. Amy Tan thus was interested in the freedom to explore the truth and experience personally.

Similarly, in how to learn and write, the background of Fredric Douglas adversely affected his writing style (Drake, 2017). Born a slave, Fredrick Douglas was motivated to influence the freedom of slaves, and through his writing, Fredrick Douglas criticizedslavery and urges his audience against practicing slavery. He learns how to read and write as a slave thus being an influence in his writing style.

Both of the authors of the essays: Fredrick Douglas and Amy Tan overcame challenges to perfect themselves in writing. Amy Tan grew up in an environment full of brokenEnglish, but the love for language made her overcome this to be a perfect writer in English.  Although she became disappointed severally on how society expects people to communicate the same in English, she grew to be an English master. Similarly, Fredrick Douglas faces challenges when learning to read and write. When 12 years of age, his mistress tries to teach him how to read and learn, but she is prevented from continuing with training him. Fredrick Douglas then comes to learn from the white boys in the surrounding. However, Fredrick Douglas overcame this challenge to be one of the most reputable writers known despite his background of being born as a slave























Drake, J. (2017). Embracing the surface: How to read a life narrative. a/b: Auto/Biography Studies32(1), 67-74.

Bennett, N. (2016). To narrate and denounce: Frederick Douglass and the politics of personal narrative. Political Theory44(2), 240-264.

Koretsky, D. P. (2018). Boundaries between Things Misnamed: Social Death and Radical (Non-) Existence in Frederick Douglass and Lord Byron. European Romantic Review29(4), 473-484.

Tan, A. (2017). Where the Past Begins: A Writer’s Memoir. HarperCollins UK.

Looker, S. (2016). Writing about Language: Studying Language Diversity with First-Year Writers. Teaching English in the Two Year College44(2), 176.


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