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Mexicans Want To Learn English

Updated on May 1, 2012

For most, that is a given fact. They know it is to their benefit in all sorts of ways. The older generations, those 40 and older, are being pushed by their kids to learn it. A good example is what I just witnessed. I was walking the dog around the block, and father and son were working on their car. The father was over 40, the son, 17 or so. The father spoke to his son in Spanish, the teen responded in English. The father, in Spanish, asked his son why are you speaking English. The son responded irritated, "because I want to, when are you going to learn English?" The Father did not respond.

That sort of sums up the dilemma facing many Hispanic families. As younger generations face a world of English in their daily lives, this is not so with the parents, who have not learned it in school. Their kids force the parents to learn it to some extent. Whether their parents like it or not, their kids are Americans in just about every way. Just go to any elementary or high school.

For the parents, learning English is daunting. English for an adult is one of the most difficult languages to master because English is a language thief. English steals many words from other languages, changes them in spelling and maybe in meaning. The rules for English to a foreigner are baffling. Then, add to this, a mix of slang, modern terms and double meanings, and foreigners get frustrated.

For many Hispanic adults, their desire to learn it is diverted because of work. Going to school is more time. The main thing is that most want to learn English gratis. They do not nor can afford schools, so they go to free adult schools funded by State and Federal agencies to learn English. These are usually packed. Because of the California budget deficit, many of these are now closing. Some counties had six adult schools before 2008, serving 9000 adults of all types. Because of a lack of funding, these same counties have only 1 or 2 such schools.

When you ask them why they want to learn English, the reasons echo from "because I am in the US", "it helps me get a better job", "so I can understand when my kids have friends over", "because my kids want me to".

Most Hispanics know learning English is to their benefit, but learning it takes at least two years for basic fluency. Because most earn low wages, they cannot afford private schools and learning English with computer based programs has its limits and still costs.


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    • Byron Wolf profile image

      Byron Wolf 

      6 years ago

      Thanks for putting this issue in perspective. I think a lot of Americans get frustrated with those who don't speak English here without realizing the difficulty.


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