A new book came out recently titled How I Learned English
. I was hoping the author were Arnold Schwarzenegger
. Or George W. Bush
. But its subtitle tells that more than one has a story to tell, and they all have one thing in common--55 Accomplished Latinos Recall Lessons in Language and Life
It got me really interested. I've always been curious about how others learned their English. This is the editorial review from Publishers Weekly:
"Veteran travel writer Miller (On the Border) has put together a substantial volume on language, knowledge and cultural assimilation, gathering essays and excerpts from more than 50 authors, poets, professional athletes and musicians, doctors and politicians who took up English as a second (or third, or fourth) language. As PBS correspondent Ray Suarez notes in the foreword, for many "the need to learn English was accompanied by wrenching personal circumstances: exile, illness, economic migration, family dissolution," but it was also "a proffered ticket to... the modern and changing world." In a piece from 1982's Hunger of Memory, for example, Richard Rodriguez recalls distinctions he made as a child between a private and a public language-Spanish had always been his to use, but English, what he needed for school, felt more difficult to embrace. In a selection from her 2001 memoir American Chica, Washington Post books editor Marie Arana tells how she feigned ignorance of English on her first day at a new elementary school so she'd be funneled into the Spanish-speaking class. Other contributors such as Alvaro Vargas Llosa, Walter Mercado, Enrique Fernández and Daisy Zamora provide nuanced perspectives on the ongoing immigration debate, putting faces to the statistics and concrete meaning to broad points of policy and ideology."Los Angeles Times
also had a review about the book by a Cornell University professor. Here is an excerpt from her review
"The result is a wide range of remembered English lessons, some of which are comical: Poet José Kozer advises that instead of using "beach" (which sounds too much like "bitch"), "I would say 'shore.' " Others offer practical advice, such as to carry a pocket dictionary, or to ask "older people who [don't] seem in a hurry" for directions. Some can be heartbreaking, as in the case of physician and poet Rafael Campo, who felt he had to "unlearn" Spanish to "finally leave Cuba behind and become truly American.""
I can't wait to read it.