My fellow Giants fans

I am a New York Giants fan (the Giants are an American football team) and am active on a Giants message board where an offtopic post recently sparked a heated discussion about immigrants in America and English.

Sadly, many of the responses were along the lines of this one: “Its ridiculous learn the languge or suffer the consequences. Whatever they may be. WE speak English here end of story.”

I responded:

Actually the basis of this thread is that “we” do not all speak English. The question seems to be “what should we do about it?”

Young immigrants (children) to America usually do learn English. ESL programs help. The suggestion that we should take non-English speaking children and throw them into regular classrooms (I remember reading that in this thread but don’t remember who wrote it) will lead to incredible problems for not only the student, but also the teacher (imagine the history teacher trying to explain causes of the Civil War in English to a student who doesn’t understand English – of course the teacher will fail to reach non-English speaking students). And when the teacher has major problems so does the class.

Adult immigrants have a much tougher time than their children. Where do they go to learn English? How do they find time (adults of course are expected to work and earn moeny)? How can they afford the langauge lessons (outside of public school there are only a few free programs so adults often have to pay a private school)?

Yet some of you expect all immigrants to speak fluent English. It’s not possible. Between raising and providing for their families, many immigrants will not have the time or money required to learn English. And learning English takes a huge time investment – years and years. This means that even immigrants with free time and extra money who make an effort to learn English may not speak it. It will take them a few years.

For waht it’s worth, I disagree with what Moose said; he said starting in 7th grade is too late. Actually adult learners can become fluent in English even if they begin learning later in life. There is no doubt that it becomes more and more difficult as you get older especially after 40 or 50).

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