Friday, September 8, 2006
You hear it all the time. In some form or another, depending on the education of the one speaking.
"Let 'em learn English."
Sometimes there are variations of this message.
"If they want to live in this country, let 'em learn to speak our language!"
Or "Why don't they go back where they came from, if they won't learn to speak English?"
Or there's the one: "I don't like it when they talk that gobbledy gobble in front of me and I can't understand it."
However it is put, the message is clear. Some people get hot under the collar when people who move into the states from other countries do not know how to speak or read or write English.
However, there is more to this issue than meets the eye.
Ladies and gents, learning a language just does not come easily to everyone.
There are those who have an ear for languages and can pick one up quickly when exposed to it. And there are others to whom the foreign word will always remain Greek.
There are several stumbling blocks that have to be hurdled once these united shores are reached.
With everything new and strange, a transplanted citizen may grasp onto, and hold fast to, the one thing that is familiar-the language of home. And sharing that language with others of the same persuasion also adds to the comfort level.
If life revolves around the same comforting circle in which everyone speaks the mother tongue, learning English is naturally not going to progress rapidly. There just isn't the need for it, if one is working in the fields and there is someone at the end of the row who can speak for you.
There's a risk involved in attempting to twist a tongue around new words and shaping them into conversation. It would be an unusual human being who would be willing to take the risk of sounding foolish in front of people he or she doesn't yet know well enough to trust not to laugh or poke fun.
It's easier to keep silent, nod and smile pleasantly.
A stumbling block that looms as big as a boulder is faced by the immigrant who comes to this country unable to read or write even his or her own language.
There are many who came here from south of the border years ago who didn't have the advantage or the luxury of attending school. Rather than heading for the classroom at the age of six, they were shepherded to work to help support a family in a country where you were either rich or poor, with very little middle ground. So, while they are able to speak the language they learned at their mother's knee, they can not read it or write it.
These people, many of whom came to the states as children, were handicapped when they attempted to learn the language of their new country. They didn't have the tools to help them translate words from one language to another. Many did not attend schools here, so still can't read or write in any language.
English as a second language is promoted and it works, as long as non-English speaking people can find time to take the classes, have the courage to overcome self-consciousness and find trustworthy people willing to help them practice a new language that, once learned, can be passed on to others in their families.
But, folks, speaking English is not as easy as it sounds! So, instead of criticizing, how about looking around to see how you can be part of the solution instead of adding to the problem.
-Daily Sun News