Times Poll Shows Negative Attitudes Toward Immigrants

The reported results of the poll on immigrants revealed a sad truth upon which I'd like to comment. As a speech educator given the responsibility of helping members of America's ever-growing immigrant population learn to pronounce English, I know dozens of people from Eastern Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Central and South America, Mexico, Korea, Vietnam, and more. One thing to which I can attest, the majority of these "second-language" people are desperate to become an economic asset to America, to contribute their many talents to the American culture.

Unfortunately, America is not so ready to even give outsiders a chance, and I think one of the saddest reasons is a prejudice that cuts across all ethnic groups. It's a language prejudice. It's devastating.

English is categorically one of the most difficult languages to speak because of the large number of sounds it has compared to most other languages, over 40! (The Hawaiian tongue has 12 sounds. Worldwide average is 25-30.)

Why should people from parts of the world that most of us have never visited, from oppressive governments that many had to literally escape risking their lives, not be given every chance to prove their worth and contribute to America's economy? It's difficult to gain employment equal to your skills (many are engineers, doctors) when you are ignored because you cannot as yet correctly pronounce the short "a" in "cat," or the "y" in "yellow."

I asked my class of 36 on our first day, why are you here in America? They all report, "Because here we are free and not oppressed." I asked them if they like their new home. They report that it is so very difficult because they are treated like second-class people, ignored, and pushed aside because they cannot speak English good enough. "But we will," they say.


Van Nuys

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