From its beginnings, the United States has housed a rich reserve of languages. English has always been prominent; that doesn’t change the fact that explorers and immigrants alike brought their own languages along for the ride. Today the United States’ language variation is no less impressive. Babbel.com has an extensive description of these languages, listing English, of course, as the top language, with English-only speakers reaching around 254 million. Second is Spanish, with about 43 million speakers, and below that you can find languages like Arabic, Chinese, French, Korean, and more.
Outside of the United States, English is still held at a high standard. It may not be the predominant language in other countries, but because of the number of historically power-holding countries claiming English as the predominant language, English has become the language of international communication, business, and big entertainment. Which means that English is often sought after and encouraged for the wide range of international access it provides. While this doesn’t discount other languages, their rich vocabulary, and uses, it means that to know English is a valuable asset, especially in a country where English is the norm.
This is where English as a Second Language classes come in (ESL). In the U.S., 8% of the population is considered “limited-English proficient (LEP).” ESL classes work not to disregard a native language, but to open more doors into international understanding, entertainment, and business as mentioned before. ESL is encouraged and sought after often, but sometimes lack of opportunity can hinder follow through. Locally, the Literacy Council of Western Arkansas offers these for free. On a broad scale, with some searching, there are often Literacy Councils, online programs, tutoring, and various local programs to find wherever you may be.
A student of ESL may oftentimes think it’s too late to add on a language, or that if they are not immediately fluent, they will be judged by those native to English. No matter the starting point, learning the intricacies of a second language is going to be difficult; English, especially, does not make it easy on its learners. What needs to be stressed to all is the importance and value of every language, not just English. English may open different doors, but every language has its own benefits. Fitting our perspective can keep us from judgement, and it gives students comfort in their studies to better not only themselves, but their perception of the world.
Western Arkansas Literacy Council
Blog Post #3
September 24, 2020