Breaking Down Barriers: Why Is It Important that America Continues to Support Immigrants Learning English? (by Taylor Aasland)

Introduction

Even though America has not declared a legal language, it’s safe to sTaylor1ay that English is a very vital language in being able to thrive in America. It really came to light for me that English was vital when I had the opportunity to volunteer for a good pantry that donated food to new immigrants. Through out this experience I would take immigrants, who were very limited on their English, around the pantry to help them pick out their food. As I did this I personally struggled with explain how much food they were able to take. A lot of times hand signs were used and many questions went unanswered because we could not explain. As the individuals left a wave of worry always over came me and made me realize how difficult it is to function in a society where you cannot understand a language.

As I started to realize the complications one faced, it made me start to focus on my own personal experience. It made me flash back to the time that I tried to take an order in Spanish at work (I work in a restaurant and I have 5 years of Spanish from high school) when I tried I completely froze up. I was so nervous and felt extremely self conscious. I began to realize the fear that people must feel when they face just trying to do basic actions, like simply ordering food. Again, everything had my mind stirring and I realized it’s extremely important that immigrants are able to learn English so that they can over come language barriers in order thrive within our community.

Research

When it came to researching the question, I realized even more why it was vital that immigrants are being supported when they learn the English language. Every day immigrants are put in situations where they struggle to clearly communicate. Things that we are able to easily over come; can be a struggle for an immigrant. After researching I realized there are many important issues immigrants face but the most important ones seem to be; health care issues, struggles they face with their children being in school, and issues regarding work.

With further research I began to realize that many immigrants are at risk of not being able to learn English because resources are becoming limited. Even though there are many classes that teach English, there are a lot more individuals trying to learn English. Therefore, it’s even more important that American continues to support the immigrants who wish to learn English so that their budgets do not run out.

Resources

I found many resources that will further explain the issues that immigrants face and why defeating the language barrier is important.

Bishop, Jill K. “Create a Safer Work Environment by Bridging the Language and Culture Gap.” EHS Today (2009): 42-44. Print. http://web.a.ebscohost.com.libproxy.pcc.ed/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=4260bead-3acf-4086-ae18-0625c2ee0a69%40sessionmgr4004&vid=3&hid=4107

In this article it emphasizes the important of defeating the language barrier due to the lack of communication in the work environment. It explains how when there it little to no communication in the work environment, then it can cause safety hazards for multiple people. The article also talks about how it’s hard for people to communicate without understanding what each other are saying. The article goes on to explain how companies may find the help in order to break down this language barrier. This article helps answer the question because it demonstrates that it’s important for individuals to be able to function at work. Since everybody understands the importance of work, then they will see that defeating the language barrier is very important.

Izani, Joel. “Impact of the Language Barrier on Immigrants and Refugees.” Impact of the Language Barrier on Immigrants and Refugees. Academia, n.d. Web. 03 June 2015.

http://www.academia.edu/9000814/Impact_of_the_language_barrier_on_immigrants_and_Refugees

This article is very broad in explaining the issues immigrants face when trying to survive in America with little to no English. Izani explains how there are complications with trying to receive public funds, or basic necessities like a drivers license due to the language barrier. Overall, the author really emphasizes how their quality of resources is limited since they are not fully capable of being able to communicate. This article is important since it shows how immigrants need to be able to function within the community. It demonstrates that having a language barrier often causes problems for simple things that somebody who speaks English can do in short amounts of times.

Rice, Sabriya. “Hospitals Often Ignore Policy on Using Qualified Medical Interpreters, Patient Safety Is Endangered.” Modern Healthcare. N.p., Aug. 2014. Web. 03 June 2015.

This article explained how a lot of times hospitals are not following the laws necessary to help over come the language barriers. It goes on to explain how this is important because very important information regarding the patience is loss within the conversations. It also demonstrates the laws of the hospitals. This article is important because it demonstrates the importance of English when somebody needs to receive medical attention. It shows how they may not be able to get the right attention, which can lead to even worse situation.

Getting Involved

When it comes to getting involved, there are many things that people can do. Since there are so many people currently trying to learn English, theyre are not enough classes. One can become involved by volunteering to help assist in the classes. Even if you are limited on second languages, helping is still a great way to be involved. If you do know a second language though, there’s a chance you can help teach. Many classes are provided by non-profit organizations and always welcome volunteers.

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2 comments

  1. Oscar Zielsdorff

    I like that you gave a personal story, both being at the food pantry and taking an order in Spanish. It helped show that you have some relation to the message you’re trying to convey.

    However, I noticed your word processor changed some words like “food” to “good”. I’d suggest reading through it aloud to catch instances like this where the reading flow feels interrupted. Additionally, you say there are many ways to get involved but only talk about assisting in teaching, listing some more ways would have been nice.

    Overall, nice job!

  2. I thought this was really touching. I’m wondering what your first language is? There were a couple spots I couldn’t tell if it was a typo or maybe a bit of language barrier itself. I appreciated the mention of trying to take an order in Spanish. I took a year of French in high school and never felt like I knew what I was doing in that class. The accent, enunciation, everything was off for me. I really liked how to connected the language barrier with basic needs like driving and receiving services. I think that is important and really shows how scary it must be to not understand the world around you at all. I would love to have mention of some specific organizations we can volunteer or donate too locally. It would be helpful if you could add some in next time. Interesting side note, while out on my run this morning, I saw a yard sign hand written looking for an English tutor. I have seen requests for foreign languages but never one for English. It made me think for a moment that it was probably a family with English as a second language looking for more help for their kids. I thought that was great they were looking for more than just the ESL classes at school. Great job!

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