In the article “Why My Mother Can’t Speak English” by Garry Engkent, the author tells the reader about why his mother can’t speak English. First, the author talks about how his mother who wants to get Canadian citizenship after living in Canada for 30 years. She is worried that she is losing her old age pension from the government after reading “Dai Pao,” a Chinese newspaper. He also talks about his and his mom experience in Citizenship Court where the officer questions how the mother will understand the judge’s question if she can’t speak English. The mother attempted to give a money-gift to the liaison officer, but the son prevents his mom from doing that and he explains about the cultural misunderstanding to the officer. The author also talks about how his father didn’t allow his mom to learn English because his father was afraid to lose his wife. He also explains that it is not the only reason why his mom didn’t want to learn English. She was afraid that learning English would change her Chinese identity. The author ends with telling a good news that his mother finally got a Canadian citizenship after spending 30 years in Canada whilst his mother still can’t speak English.


Engkent, Lucia. Skill Set: Strategies for Reading and Writing in the Canadian Classroom. Second Edition. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2011. Print.

Note: Submitted by a student