Jona Hammer: Immigrants should learn English, too


Published: 2/15/2019 8:47:06 AM

In her column, Shaheen Pasha makes a good case against the prejudice/fear of foreign languages, all too common in this country and others. However, as an immigrant (from Iceland), alumna of Smith College, with a Ph.D. and a long professional career in TESOL (Teachers of English as a Second Language), and the mother of a fluently bilingual daughter, I would like to comment from a slightly different angle.

It is truly necessary for native speakers of languages other than English who make their home here to learn English as well as possible. All prejudice aside, the U.S is a country where all societal/political matters are transacted in English and those without command of the language are easily dismissed as second-class citizens. By all means, if you are a native speaker of a language other than English, raise your child bilingual. Studies have shown this to be an advantage to the child, far exceeding the merely linguistic one. But a strong effort to encourage and enable new immigrants to communicate effectively with their new society, whether or not they are striving to achieve academic status, is imperative, here in the U.S. as in other countries.

Jona Hammer

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