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English as a Second Language

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Chico ConSuArte

on 15 May 2014

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Transcript of English as a Second Language

Lucy Honig says " Hi y'all! ".
LUCY HONIG was born in 1948 in NYC.

She has taught ESL in adult education and intensive English-language programs to students from all over the world.

She's been bitten by the storytelling bug and now she's become a fiction writer.
About the author
About the plot
of this story is Maria's difficulty to understand and express herself in English.

- all the events up to the subway episode (including flashbacks).

Rising action
"She panicked when they got to the big school by the river."
(line 133)

"Was she suposed to say something? Her heart stopped beating. (...) This was definitely a question, meant to be answered."
(lines 240-246)

Falling action
"'I want to know one more thing, Maria,' said the Mayor..."
(lines 307)

"In the brief moment of shamed silence after she'd uttered those words (,,,) the audience began to laugh."
(lines 343-345)
About the setting
The story takes place between 1986 and 1989.

It is set in NYC (the Plaza hotel in Manhattan, the apartment in the Bronx, the subway, and the auditorium of a community college.)

About the story itself
This story reflects the struggle of Maria, a Guatemalan immigrant, to survive in the U.S.

After she lost her husband and her two oldest sons, Maria moved to New York City to start a new life. Here, she found a job and went to school for the first time.

Many years of hard work has passed since then and now she is going to receive a literacy award for all her achievements.

But Maria is not willing to speak in English and makes some "terrible" mistakes while talking to the audience. She feels embarrassed but nobody cared about them after all.
English as a Second Language
Meet the troop:
Martínez, Lizeth
Monzón, Mabel
Navall, Victoria
Pucheta Fabbro, Carlos

What's being talked about?

Subject matter

The struggle of immigrants to
communicate in a new language.


Adaptation to a different culture
The overcoming of hardships
Prosperity despite difficulties

How is being talked about?
Point of view

Limited third-person:
"That's what Jorge always said when she (Maria) watched TV at home. (...) Maria thought they are timeless guardian spirits..."

Atmosphere - t
hreatening, fearful, tense, nerve-wracking, joyful, depressive, and tearful.

Tone - s
erious, humorous/mocking, and sentimental.

- simple and colloquial paired with similes and metaphors.

Guatemalan immigrant living in NYC.
Works as a chambermaid.
Mother of five children and widow.
Determined to progress
Enthusiast for education.
Not willing to speak English
Strong willed and decisive
Has a traditional way of thinking
About Maria Perez
About her children

Maria's youngest daughter.
Attends the State University.


Maria's youngest son.
Junior in high school.
Arrogant and critical towards Maria.


Maria's oldest daughter.
In second year of law school on a scholarship.
Pretty young woman with big eyes and black hair.
Caring and supportive towards Maria.
The teacher & the Mayor
Maria's ESL teacher.
Old (no kidding...)
Chinese immigrant living in NYC.
Maria's classmate.
Works in a sweatshop all day.
Looks after her old and sick parents.
Known as the Quiet One.
Experienced a terrible and shocking scene back in her village.
About Ling
Get ready to play!
To sum up...

This story describe the hardships immigrants have to endure not only in their native countries but also in the U.S., where they try to take a bite out of the Big Apple. Some of them succeed like Maria, and others do not (Ling).

Moreover, the author's vision of the 'mainstream' American culture is rather disapproving. It's reflected by Maria's thoughts about TV shows and people's disappointing attitudes towards immigrants.

"They were
stone-age men sitting on the train
in loincloth made from animal skins, so out of place,
out of time. Yet timeless."
"Maria thought they are timeless guardian spirits..."
Congratulations to the winners!
Full transcript