Celebrating our Diversity at RHS

Jonathan Flores Angel & Kathryn Umana, Staff Writers

The United States is also known as “The Melting Pot.” The melting pot is a term used to describe when foreign citizens give up their cultural backgrounds over generations to ‘assimilate’ into the American culture. The idea of immigrants assimilating in the United States has been around since the early 20th century. But, imagine going somewhere and not being able to communicate with the people around you. Being in a place where you can’t really vocally say what you need or want, makes you rely on and hope that the people around you understand what you’re trying to get across. 

Language barriers are the inability to properly communicate with another person using a spoken language. It is one of the most common barriers that separate people because of the many different languages that people speak around the world. Language barriers can cause poor communication and misunderstanding between people. This furthers already wide divides between people of different cultural and racial backgrounds. 

The second most spoken language in the United States is Spanish with around 13.4% of the population being fluent in it. Around 22% of United States citizens do not speak English at home with their families.How many times have you spoken with someone that didn’t speak English? How often have you seen someone struggling to order something at a restaurant because they couldn’t say what they wanted? How often do you see someone avoiding talking in a group because they already know they won’t be understood? It’s more than likely that you have seen something like this somewhere in real life. Language barriers are an issue in the United States because they can limit how often and how well someone can interact with the people around them.Mrs.Kenney, a math teacher at Revere High School, grew up and studied in Chile. Right after graduating from college, she decided to go to grad school in the U.S. Coming into the U.S, she did not know any English; she said: “It was like being born again, it’s like you have to learn everything again so the first year can be really sad and confusing. It’ll make you upset because you definitely don’t know what’s going on, so I know that I kinda went and tried to be friends with the people that spoke Spanish and I could relate too. ”. She decided to take classes at her college so that she could learn how to speak English. Kenney was working at a Hispanic restaurant where she only had to speak Spanish. She knew that she had to push herself more so she got a new job where she was surrounded by English speakers only. 

Legitimately having her sister be the only other Hispanic employee at this restaurant, she had to strive and get out of her comfort zone to get all she knows into action. Kenney knew that in order to get the specific job she wanted, she had to be able to speak English. Even though math is a universal language, it is taught and presented differently around the world. Therefore, at the very beginning of her teaching career, she had that slight struggle of having to translate the problems from English to Spanish and then back to English so that she could teach them to her students. Like everything, it took time and practice. Kenney has been living in the U.S for the last 12 years.

Now, envision yourself as a non-English speaking person in the United States. You don’t understand any of the people around you, and you don’t know how to start trying to learn how to understand any of the things around you. This is the reality for many people in the United States and it should be addressed. There should be more programs available for non-English speaking United States citizens to learn English so that these people have a fair chance of living in this country.