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Language

Essay by 24  •  May 13, 2011  •  1,463 Words (6 Pages)  •  523 Views

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I have lived in the United States for almost three years now. Being natively of Bangladeshi origin, I experience an extremely different lifestyle than Americans do. It is the lifestyle experienced by those you come from other countries to live in the U.S. Being part of this international community, I am more sensitive to and hence aware of issues that primarily affect the lives of these kinds of people than Americans are. Of these many issues, there is one I have identified that comes up in discussions more frequently than others. The issue I am referring to is that of the language barrier that exists between those whose primary language is English and those whose primary language is not English.

In recent history, many studies have been conducted on this topic regarding how often this language barrier restricts effective communication, what consequences occur as a result of it and how best to rectify this problem. These studies are far from finished and are still continuing. It might still be quite some time before we can obtain some quantifiable results from these studies that can actually be applied towards determining a viable solution. However, as stated in "USA Today", one person with limited English skills enters the country every thirty one seconds, and one out of five people in the USA speak a language other than English. This is enough to prove that language differences are real enough.

However, being in the 21st century, I would like to believe that we have at least to some extent made some beneficial progress in these issues. My experience in the extremely diverse and multicultural environment that is UTA, I have come to believe this true at least about the issue of language barriers between people of different linguistic backgrounds. This is the topic of discussion in this paper, that perhaps the language barrier issues that exist today are just remnants of hype that carried over from a previous generation and that perhaps they do not really apply in this day and age. From what I have experienced for myself, the language barriers that existed before have been now reduced to trivialities. Some proof of this can be seen in "Breaking the Language Barrier" which outlines some ways that have already been implemented to help fire fighters and common citizens to get around the language barrier if it exists in order to ensure public safety.

Generalizing the issue to a great extent, it can be said that language barriers in the United States are caused by two things. The first is when a foreigner living in America does not have a good grasp of English and hence cannot communicate effectively in the language that is considered the standard medium. In this situation, the foreigner finds it difficult to communicates his thoughts or needs effectively to the people necessary.

The second is when a native English speaking person who has been brought up around a purely English speaking society is forced to deal with someone who does not speak English natively. In this situation, the native English speaking person may mistake the inability to communicate in correct English as illiteracy or diminished mental capacity. Although the commonness of these situations was the root of the problem under debate in the past, I believe that in the most recent two decades, much has been done to work away from such situations.

Let us first consider the problem of the lack of knowledge of the English language being viewed as illiteracy or diminished mental capacity. This problem has its roots in the lack of diversity within a community. When this diversity of cultures and language does not exist, the collective opinions of the people within that community tend to become one-tracked and rigid since an expanded awareness of different view points was never required. It is not the knowledge of different languages that is needed to fight this mentality, but simply the knowledge of the existence of those other languages, the witnessing of their active usage among respectable community members. Simply being exposed to these kinds of things implants the idea that literacy does exist among all other languages as well. This subconscious understanding that intelligence and capacity are not linked to the knowledge of English alone is instrumental in bringing down the language barrier to a large extent.

However, all the solutions I have described above is exactly what has been taking place in the United States in recent decades. With the new advances in transportation and communications technology, the physical and virtual gap between people of different backgrounds has been greatly reduced. As a result, Americans have been greatly exposed to other cultures. In fact, the more recent generations have grown up around them and have come to depend on them. They have come to appreciate other people's knowledge of different topics and intellectual capacity past what can be ascertained from English communication alone. In general, I believe that Americans' opinions and views in general have advanced a great deal as far as the problems of language barriers are concerned.

We can now address the problem concerning foreigners' lack of English

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