This task will be related to Part 1: “Language in cultural context” specified in the topic of “Language and Identity’ and how both (language and identity) are related to each other. In order to find the relation, the movie “The Freedom Writers” was studied. This film portrays the achievement of dreams, and how people living in the same place can express their language in different ways depending on their social and cultural history. The task was centered on how language is shaped by a cultural context, represented with a diary entry written from a character from the movie: Ben.
He talks about his and his classmates’ experiences with Miss Erin as a teacher and how her life changed together with their own, and how social differences interfere in their social relationship. This diary is separated into different sections according to what he lives every day, talking in present tense. Along the diary there are quotes from the teacher and the students, used to emphasize the main theme of this task: language and culture. Through those quotes the teacher showed code switching, trying to get to know her students by their own language.
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Ben tells his story his personal point of view and sometimes he compares the teacher’s story to his own. Nowadays this is a big problem for some people who go to different countries and still don’t adapt. That’s why this was a good exercise for better understanding of the problem (cultural/social) and practice better writing. A diary entry was chosen for this task because it is interesting how the point of view from a certain character can change the way a general audience can think about a certain topic.
The characteristics of the airy entries were to add different dates to each paragraph and write in first person. *Written task based on the movie “The Freedom Writers”- directed by Richard Laggardness- year 2007 Rationale words: 300 How my story begins to change Monday 1 2: This is my first diary entry, so I will talk a little about myself. I lived all my life in Los Angles, California. One day I had to move to Long Beach, California for family reasons. In Los Angles my teachers were very serious, formal and not so appealing with students.
For some reason everyone thought we were educated, but the real taxation is that teachers mistreated us. Once I moved to Long beach everyone was different from me, not in the educational part, but in the physical and language aspect; I was white and everyone else black, I talk in a certain tone and they talk in a different one. They discriminated me for those differences and I wasn’t able to defend myself, so instead I stayed quiet and ignorant. Suddenly my story began to change when Miss Erin arrived to school.
I always saw something good about her; she wasn’t like the other teachers; she seems educated, DOD looking and she was white. I didn’t feel alone anymore around my classmates: someone was Just like me in the physical aspect. However, at the beginning I saw a strange attitude from her towards the class; she didn’t understand us very well. I didn’t know why, she did not look racist, but with time I was able to realize she didn’t understand the way my classmates talked. I say “my classmates” because I do not feel I belong to them, not now.
Tuesday 19th: Today, Miss Erin had chalk on her skirt and one of the boys of the class told her: do you want give me fries with that shake”. Everybody laughed very hard, she laughed a little so nobody notice she didn’t understand the Joke, I knew she didn’t understand what he meant by that phrase, because that used to happen to me too, in fact I still don’t get them but I am used to those strange phrases. I realized that the misunderstanding was mutual, she didn’t understand them and they didn’t understand her since she used very professional words like: auxiliary, abrogate, acrimony etc.
Nevertheless, she tried so hard to understand the class’ engage and be part of them but her culture was too different from theirs, however I was able to realize something; she didn’t want to learn the language Just to be updated, but because she cared about us and our education. Miss Campbell told Miss Erin we had to learn real discipline but how could she teach us discipline if she couldn’t communicate verbally with us? Wednesday 20th: Today at class, Miss Erin started to imitate the way they talked, she told us: “My badness” when she tried to be nice with us, as a consequence everyone started laughing because it was mispronounced.
Also she got mad sometimes with one of my classmates, so she had to punish him verbally in a way that he could understand her, by saying: “This is a buck you’ to me and everyone in your class”. Either for worse or better she tried to communicate. I thought she was very brave to learn their language and face them in bad moments, it was certainly something that I would never do, I am too fearful. Friday 22nd: On this day Miss Erin told us she realized that the bad pronunciation and spelling mistakes came from their bad attitude, since they didn’t care about their own education.
She notices that they express that attitude through drawings (that I never was able to understand) it was like their language was expressed in a simple drawing. She saw one of the drawings my classmates did; it was a comic mocking one black boy of the class. That was the moment when Miss Erin explained to us the story of the holocaust; nobody in my class knew what it was, neither did l. She told us that this event of the past was related to discrimination Just like the type they were doing to this boy. She explained how important education was for us, the opportunity it eave us to; go to school, college, work etc.
She sounded really sad and mad at the same time, because we were losing a chance that many people throw away. I felt happy in a certain way because finally there was a teacher who cared about us in a deeper way. Right after that, she gave us some diaries where we could write, not only to write our feelings but also to improve our grammar. At the beginning, of course, nobody wanted to write because they weren’t used to express their feelings and writing their daily life on a piece of paper. Personally, I was scared for someone to e my life, get to know my fears and use that evidence to mock me.
Nevertheless, one girl in my class took the first diary, which leads to the rest of the class to pick one too. Monday 24th: Miss Erin, arrived to school with a big surprise; everyone started to write in their diaries, it was awesome how they started to care about their grammar and their attitude was instantly changed, they were happier, their grades began to rise; it seems like writing took away all their problems. I can talk by myself to; I’m not afraid anymore of my classmates and our cultural differences, in fact, now I have friends.
However, Miss Erin still doesn’t get the language; one day one boy told her: “No that don’t fly ‘ma”. And she told him “I’m not your mom”. Of course everyone laughed, including me, but not mocking, instead, they told her that was a sign of respect. Now that two years have passed from the first time we saw Miss Erin, she has learned our language and we all make Jokes between each other. All this effort came from her, that’s why I have to thank her for teaching us to be better persons with the rest of the people and most important, with ourselves. Task words: 1. 000