"After all, when you come right down to it, how many people speak the same language even when they speak the same language?"--Russell Hoban
I think people's hearts were in the right place in trying to get us to speak English in preparation for the adult world and the place in which we lived, and I don't sense any huge, evil plan at work. But that's almost worse.
We got our rewards for speaking English, though, and they were clear: for lack of a better word, we got the wonderful first grade stuff! Desks, pencils, cubbyholes, clay, chalkboards, paints, butcher paper, maps. Well, we didn't actually know about maps, yet, but we liked the string that hung from them in front of the chalkboard--we could tell this was for pulling. This was all real stuff, stuff we didn't have at home. Not even close.
Stuff! We wanted it! It was our job to want it--we were first graders, after all. And if it took learning English, we weren't stupid--we could do that. Two weeks tops. We could, and we did. And well, maybe too well.
The thing is, we didn't stop learning. That's the part nobody talks about very well.
A bargain was being struck, one that you couldn't go home and talk to your parents about. If Spanish was something you were hit for, and you get hit for doing something bad, Spanish then must be bad. That wasn't hard to figure out. We didn't articulate it; we just felt it. We knew what getting swatted would feel like.
Speaking English, on the other hand, got you stuff.