Mother Tongue: Michael Vignoles

Michael Vignoles

Hall 1121


Making the Impossible Possible

Growing up I was fortunate enough to be adopted by college scholars that I’m grateful to call my parents. My farther migrated from England and achieved a masters in Mathematics, and my mother went to college for Nursing, and years later is double majored in Criminal Psychology. So unlike Amy Tan, there was a consequence if I were not to speak proper and sophisticate english, especially if we were in public. However, like Amy Tan and her mother, reading and writing was not my strongest ability. I struggled with the similar problems like being judge by others and how society saw me as an individual. English and Writing was never my strongest trait while growing up but always excelled in STEM classes. (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics)

School in general I always had to work harder, and study longer through nights to just get a B in school. I constantly compared myself to my siblings who flew by their classes like it was a walk in the park. I remember in elementary school my older brother won the Spelling B in his grade. As his younger brother I would always look up to him and I wanted to win a Spelling B too . My mother helped me study what seemed to be an endless list of words for weeks. We made sayings to help me remember the words that I couldn’t remember. To this day when I think of the word “decision,” I say the word in my head as “Dec-is-sion.” The day of the Spelling B finally came and I have never been more prepared for anything in my life. I was ready to win. When I’m up on the stage, I realize the judges are giving the other kids words I never studied for. Then when it was my turn they gave me words that I just have to sound out and hope for the best. Later, I founded out that I was given the list of words for the grade above me and not the one for my class. I was devastated for weeks.

Years later we attended a new school in the city that was very test friendly. I would get pop quizzes at least once a day, depending on the class. This school would give out rewards for achieving goods grades, good conduct, and even perfect attendance. My brother and sister always got their first and second honors rewards and I wanted to bring home something too. My goal that year was to get the Perfect Attendance reward. In my head perfect attendance was the only reward that I could get because it would be a miracle just getting one 100% just one test in a semester.

I wanted to prove that I was more capable than what people thought of me. I always excelled in my STEM classes because everything was easier to comprehend. Just like how Amy Tan mentions she got B’s on the English test, but would alway do significantly better on the math and science test. She continues and states

“Math is precise, there is only one correct answer. Whereas, for me at least, the answers  on English Test were always a judgment call, a matter of opinion and personal      experience.”

I always enjoyed Math or Science because there was always one correct answer, and multiple different way to find it. I could take any path of problem solving and as long as I get to the right logical answer. However, I never gave up on my reading and writing skills.

For my last year of High School I made it to an honors Reading and Writing class. Rumors had it that this teacher had assigned essays due every week. Again, growing up it became normal to always work harder than other. That whatever task was at hand had to be done with 110% of dedication, will power, and sleepless nights. Those sleepless nights of reading and writing made my skill significantly better. This teacher helped me find my passion for reading and writing. Just like the quote above, English is portraying a story, and how my personal point of view is what makes a great story. It’s all personal experiences  and opinions on how we see things. That class helped find a passion for creative writing. That I have an unlimited source of words to portray my thoughts and feeling perfectly onto a piece of paper to show to the world. Now I would rather write an essay than trying to solve the instant velocity of a ball right before it starts to fall down again.

Just like Amy Tan reading and writing is not our strongest abilities, but we both had the passion to continue to work on our weaknesses. Furthermore, writing is now one of my strongest abilities. Amy quotes “I happen to be rebellious in nature and enjoy the challenge of disapproving assumptions made about me. I became an English major my first year of college. – I started writing nonfiction as a freelance the week after I was told by my former boss that writing is my weakest skill.” In my opinion, Amy was able to excel in writing in the same ways that I did. I always want to work hard and prove people wrong. To work on my weakness and them strengths. The way she was raised had no impact on her English. It’s the willingness to always perceiver and work hard until the impossible seems possible. Never would I have thought that I would be saying that reading and writing is one of my favorite subjects now. 

For Tuesday, Feb 5.

Link to OpenLab’s Help section on “How to Write a Post” HERE

Hi! For Tuesday, please read and annotate the excerpt from Keith Gilyard’s “Voices of the Self.” If you missed class, I have put a few extra copies outside my office, which is Namm 525.

There are basically 3 sections to this reading: VII (which you should read, but can skim), VIII (which I would like you to pay close attention to) and the reflection (“Conclusion.” I have also written “Part 2 starts here” on that page). You should pay especially close attention to this section as well.

Please also post a response to the Gilyard reading on Open Lab. For this, please think of yourself as a writer, and answer the following question: What is Gilyard doing in his writing that you would like to do in your own writing? Be specific! (by which I mean, use quotes– and tell us what it is about the writing that you like– the style, the subject matter, etc.) You may also talk about what Gilyard does in his writing that you do not want to do in your own writing– again, be specific– use quotes, and explain what you do not like. DON’T SAY IT’S TOO LONG, THOUGH. That’s just…too simple. It’s only too long if it bores you. If it does bore you, explain what, specifically, is boring! This response should be 200 words or so, and posted on OpenLab.

When you post on OpenLab, you must add a category or it won’t let you post. The category for this assignment is “Gilyard” Categories are on the right side of the page in a column. Directions for writing a post can be found at the very top of this entry.


For Thursday

Please read and annotate “Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan. Please also type up a response of at least 200 words in which you answer the following question. Bring it to class!:

How does Tan’s experience with education and English compare to your experience with education and English? Think about this deeply– you might not speak Chinese, for example, but you may have been made fun of for the way you talk, or you may speak in ways that are not considered “standard.” Or maybe you do speak a totally “standard” English. If so, how do you feel when you hear someone like Tan’s mom?