A video of a Chinese Harvard student explaining why she has decided to “stop trying to learn English” has gone viral on Bilibili.
In the video uploaded on Thursday, 24-year-old Tatala shared her reasons behind why she no longer wishes to learn English. The video was submitted as an assignment for a Harvard Language and Equity course.
Tatala explains that she has always been a good student when studying English; however, she never felt satisfied and her confidence has wavered throughout the journey of learning the language. She provides several examples of when she felt that English had affected her confidence in school.
According to Tatala, during primary school, she was given the English name “Wency” by her American teacher, which she often found difficult to pronounce due to her northern Chinese dialect. She would pronounce “Wency” as “Vency” despite her teacher correcting Tatala on multiple occasions.
“So I said ‘Yes sir, thanks for your instruction,’ and I went home practicing Wency a hundred times,” Tatala says.
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Tatala, however, expressed disappointment that her teacher never attempted to call her by her Chinese name.
“But he never realized that I was not even Wency. I have my name, in my language, that you didn’t even try to enunciate,” Tatala says in the video.
Tatala says she continued to receive good grades while studying English, and in middle school, she traveled abroad to the United Kingdom where her friend asked if she would rather have ham or turkey. When Tatala asked about the difference between the two, her friend and her mother both laughed as they explained how a pig says “oink oink” while a turkey says “clunk clunk.”
“I just didn’t know the vocabulary. It’s not that I’m too stupid to recognize animals,” Tatala says.
Tatala recognized that English was affecting her life when she came to realize that she would blame everything on language although several factors affected the daily challenges that she faced, including her confidence and communication skills.
Rather than abandoning the language, Tatala explains that she no longer wishes to pursue the cultural identity behind English. She adds that language can cause people to judge personality, background and intention since language is considered to be a part of one’s identity.
“Even if I am just not perfect at English, so what? This is my second language. This is the lingua franca I was pushed to learn. No matter how well or how bad I speak English, I will have my voice. Ethnic minority, Chinese, Asian, I will have my serpent’s tongue, my woman’s voice, my international student’s voice, my influencer’s voice. I will overcome the tradition of silence,” Tatala says in the video.
The video has garnered 420,000 views and 33,000 likes since being uploaded.