The odd truth is that my first-grade classmates could have become bilingual, in the conventional sense of that word, more easily than I. Had they been taught (as uppermiddle-class children are often taught early) a second language like Spanish or French, they could have regarded it simply as that: another public language. (Rodriguez 1)
Rodriguez points out here that if any of his English-speaking classmates had been taught another language, it wouldn't have been given another thought. Perhaps it is because they speak English at home and wouldn't have to worry about integrating it with their families, essentially turning it into a "private" language. They are part of a society that already speaks English, so there is no communication barrier; they can always revert back to English while talking to their peers if they are having difficulties. Meanwhile, someone like Rodriguez whose first language isn't English can't turn to Spanish if he has trouble expressing himself during many conversations, because the person he is talking to may not understand Spanish since it is not the country's first language.
…as we children learned more and more English, we shared fewer and fewer words with our parents. Sentences needed to be spoken slowly when a child addressed his mother or father. (Often the parent wouldn't understand.) The child would need to repeat himself. (Still the parent misunderstood.) The young voice, frustrated, would end up saying, Never mind'-the subject was closed. (Rodriguez 2)
This marks the time when Rodriguez and his siblings have lost a powerful connection with their parents because of a language barrier. Although Spanish is their first language, they found it increasingly difficult to communicate with them causing their bonds to weaken. This article explains why dropping one's native tongue completely is a dangerous mistake-culturally- that many Spanish-speaking families are making. Rodriguez's family is one example of how it could go wrong; the family bond and the culture is greatly weakened, if not gone altogether.
while one suffers a diminished sense of private individuality by becoming assimilated into public society, such assimilation makes possible the achievement of public individuality. (Rodriguez 3)
This quote brings Rodriguez's piece to a close. He concludes that although assimilation will cause a person's "private individuality" to "suffer", it is worth it; you will gain a great public voice. He is essentially saying that someone's communication with their family or loved ones who do not speak Spanish will sadly be lost, however it's ok because they will gain the ability to communicate with the rest of society.
I cannot agree with this last quote. Although it definitely is important to learn the dominant language in order to communicate within society, it's equally important, if not more so,, to keep in contact with your culture and family. Your family will be-should be-the one who is there for you at the end of the day when you have no one left to talk to.