Learning a second language is not that easy

“If you live in this country they should make you learn English.”  I’ve heard that quite a few times in my life and they must be pretty angry about it to say it in front of my face since I”m a visible minority.  Do I understand their reasons for being angry?  Yes but it is a selfish and a closed minded way of looking at it.  Who wants to be understanding when you can rooooaaarrrrrrr instead.

From what I gather the only time they really get pissed off about it is when it affects their day.  For example, I used to work retail and there would be customers who didn’t speak English very well so my English only comprehending coworkers would get frustrated and decided in order to justify their frustrations they needed to blame someone else.

The crap thing about it is even I get a little frustrated in those situations and I come from a whole family of immigrants who either don’t speak English or don’t speak it very well.  Who knows, I’d might be like the rest of my coworkers if that wasn’t my background.

You have to keep in mind that immigrants tend to come to English speaking countries for a better life.  A better life usually meaning working lots and raising kids.  There isn’t much time and energy outside of that to learn a whole new language especially if you’re able to get by without it.  How many people do you know work full time, have kids and go to school?  I don’t even like doing any one of those things at one time.

What difference does it make to anyone’s life if some strangers don’t understand English?  For a person to not know how to speak English, living in an English speaking country would be more of their problem than anyone else’s.  They have to go about life living in a box or to get out of that box they have to get someone who speaks English to take them out of it.

It’s easy for someone who’s been living in an English speaking country all their life to just tell someone  to go and learn English but it’s not easy.  How many languages do you speak?  Probably just English and if you’re like me, English and barely another language.  I wouldn’t be able to get much done with my second language in my home country and I’ve been semi exposed to it all my life.

I’m Canadian and having  French class  is mandatory in part of your elementary and high school life.  My French blows and always blew.  If someone spoke to me in French at my pinnacle I wouldn’t understand shit.  They’d have to write it down and draw pictures that had arrows pointing to the words and then act it out like Charades then I’d probably still nod and smile.

Although, there’s many immigrants who don’t speak English very well most of them work pretty hard.   Employment is generally the most important aspect of life to them.   Don’t speak a any Engleesh, it’s ok cause everyone understands money.   That also  means paying taxes which supports a  social system.  A social system that gives welfare to people who have lived in a privileged country all their lives and have taken it for granted.  If you go to all the fast food joints here in Vancouver it’s mostly all immigrant workers because no one else wants to do those jobs.  Welfare is easier.

I just wish people wouldn’t be so redneckish about it.  Life is already hectic as it is and learning a whole new language is not easy at all unless if you’re put in all the right situations.  Actually, I don’t even think rednecks really speak English, do they?





16 comments on “Learning a second language is not that easy

  1. Pecora Nera says:

    In the UK we have a lot of immigration and people do believe that immigrants should learn the language, I guess I was one of them.

    I am now an immigrant in Italy ( have you noticed that Americans and English are not immigrants we are expats) and I now realise that learning a language is so difficult especially if you don’t have the language chip update in your brain. Mrs Sensible is wonderful at learning languages and not just the grammar but losing the sexy Italian accent as well., I am rubbish at languages I revert to pointing and shouting loudly mode.,


    • mindo240 says:

      Ya I guess Americans and English are never thought of as immigrants for whatever reason. I hope you’re liking Italy cause I think I would. To really learn another language you have to really embrace it fully all the time. At home for a good few years, my family language (cantonese) was the only language spoken and I still sucked at speaking it. English speaking school, English speaking friends, English TV programming overpowered any conversation I had at home.


  2. veraersilia says:

    Absolutely. Rednecks speak rednecky : a version of dumbed down English for shuttered minds – but they cannot help it: they’ve always lived in a closed society.
    The rare few times when I’ve had to confront them I heard them say Aee-talian for my origin. And after learning that I grew up and went to school in Italy they ask “do you speak Aee-talian?” nooo, I grew up in Italy without speaking….

    (I did not click ‘like’ so you would believe me.)


  3. lightpuma says:

    People sometimes forget that this is a country in which immigrants are the fibre.
    Many people immigrate at a late stage in their life, during which learning new languages is really tough, almost impossible for some. English should be learned because it makes things run smoothly when we can all communicate, but it’s not always a viable option.

    People who ignore this fact just choose to act boastful and arrogant, as if they’re somehow more Canadian than someone else. I’ve had people come up to me and say I should ditch my cultural get-ups, because ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans do’ ideology. But newsflash, this is nothing like Rome; this is the most multicultural country in the world.

    Even worse though, is when people ASSUME I’m forgein b/c of my dress sometimes, before they even speak to me or hear me talk.They’ll extra talk slowly, making it obvious that they think I can’t speak English. Then I reply to them fluently like any other native speaker, and they realize they just blatantly stereotyped me.

    Next time someone says to an immigrant ‘you should really learn English,’ I’m just gonna be like ‘yeah, you wanna teach them?’
    It’s a lot easier said than done.


    • mindo240 says:

      Some people just don’t want to take the time to be understanding. They just get frustrated they can’t communicate with someone when they need to and blame it on them that they should learn English to make themselves feel better. It’s like telling someone to go learn how to fix an airplane. I think learning another language might be more difficult.


  4. “Who wants to be understanding when you can rooooaaarrrrrrr instead.” 😀

    “It’s like telling someone to go learn how to fix an airplane. I think learning another language might be more difficult.” I can agree with you on that, Mr. Johnson.

    I’m an English instructor to South Koreans who travel all the way to the Philippines just to learn the language.

    Sentence pattern of their language is different from English structure so a longer transition to their becoming coherent to us native speakers is to be expected. You may get an idea as to the patience I have to practice at work. I am glad I’ve come to love the language which is one of the main reasons I’ve stayed with the job.


    • MrJohnson says:

      I remember writing this post but don’t even remember at all those 2 quotes. But I guess I wrote them.. 😀

      Oh cool, you’re an English teacher. You can teach me some English..haha. When a South Korean told me he went to the Philippines to learn English.. I was surprised. I guess that’s why there are a lot of temporary workers here from the Philippines and not many others from other countries. Not too many developing countries speak English very well, I don’t think.


      • I even wrote a post then as to why Filipinos are good at English even though it isn’t our principal form of communication.

        You’re actually very good at the language; you don’t need me at all. 🙂

        But what perplexes me is from where do you pull the kind of sagacity you have expressed considering your young age. I’ve been a reader on WP for four years but hardly could I find perspectives from someone who’s yet to reach his mid 30s.


        • MrJohnson says:

          How come Filipinos are good at English?

          I think my perspectives come from questioning everything to the root without letting my own emotions get involved. My life experiences have given me enough proof to as what is likely the truth. Less hope and less belief in how I used to feel about most things in life has brought me to how I think now. Something like that anyway.


      • In response to your query: Filipinos who are good at this language have either acquired formal education or engaged in some kind of homeschooling through large amount of reading. Almost all our academic subjects are written in English. Newspapers and magazines are in the same way. Hollywood movies and TV shows have consistently been well-accepted. So you can say our exposure to the language since childhood enable us to become fairly competent in its usage.

        But Tagalog is still my country’s primary dialect. And we have a big number of indigents here who don’t get the chance to gain or develop English literacy.


  5. Such sharp perspectives, I meant. In a positive way.
    Have a nice day! 🙂


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