January 16, 2016
By Jaime Conlan
There is no shortage of problems faced by immigrants seeking a job in a different country or trying to get acquainted with a new culture. Many immigrants find themselves immersed in a language they don’t understand with no one to help them. However, there are steps that can be taken now to help immigrants. Language acquisition is one necessary way to counteract discrimination and develop an understanding of all people.
There are organizations that alleviate some of the stresses immigrants must face. An Athens organization called ¡BIEN! seeks to provide mental health services to Spanish-speakers in their native language. Immigrants can more comfortably discuss the problems they face with a trained counselors fluent in Spanish.
To create more organizations like ¡BIEN!, we need more people to learn languages. The United States is far behind on a global scale in terms of language education.
The Pew Research Center shows that European countries often require that students study a foreign language by age 9 and acquire another foreign language later on in their educational careers. Meanwhile, there is no such requirement in the United States. According to the US Department of Education, the number of elementary schools offering a foreign language is actually decreasing.
The US Department of Education also reports that only 18 percent of Americans reported speaking a language other than English in 2010. In comparison, 53 percent of Europeans can converse in a second language.
Communication is paramount for solving issues and fostering understanding. It is our duty to help in whatever ways we can. We can bridge the gap between cultures and fight discrimination with language.
Contrary to popular belief, adults may have advantages in learning a new language. Even if learning a second or third language doesn’t sound plausible, we can do so in a number of attainable ways. Students should enroll in a foreign language class for an elective or even to satisfy a requirement.
Even non-students have a number of options. Duolingo is a free app which hosts a variety of languages with fun and simple ways to practice and learn. Get on Netflix and watch one of their many foreign films with subtitles on. Bookmark wordreference.com to start learning new vocabulary in your language of choice. On a site called Verbling, you can even video chat with a native speaker of your target language.
We must find ways to learn and help at every turn. Learning languages is one way we can alleviate some of the turmoil associated with discrimination.
Source: The Red & Black