Adjusting to English, Oakland, and America

English could be a quite complicated language. As an English language learner myself, I don’t remember much of my experience learning the language as I was fortunate enough to have started my education at a very young age. Learning at a younger age gave me the ability to adjust and adapt at a rapid pace as studies often show that the younger you are when you learn a language, the quicker you attain it. My parents were learning English at the same time as recent immigrants and had the hardest time learning. My father would attend English classes at night with other immigrants that worked in the mornings. I would sometimes go to his classes where I would often be paired up with another adult and help them with their work. During that time I was seven years old and probably did not offer much help but was more of a support system to many other English Language Learners. 15 years later, my father still struggles with his English. Adjusting to American culture or norms becomes less of a possibility and harder to achieve the older one gets.

My young cousins just moved to the United States from Mexico three years ago to be reunited with their family.Being separated for more than ten years, coming to the United States both undocumented and not knowing much of the culture at that age, only made things tougher. Only a month after coming into the states, they were thrown into public school with very low resources and not much to offer but fortunately with a few good teachers that would stay after school to do worksheets and have conversations in English. Not only are they learning English but they’re also learning the youth culture. Questions about twerking were never- ending. Who was Mac Dre and E-40? How do you go dumb and hyphy? How do you work Instagram and Snapchat? These never-ending questions that were part of being American and of course Oakland(ish), all different subcultures within one.. The correlation between language and culture is essential and interconnected when thinking about “making it.”  Success often comes with adapting.

People want to connect to their new homes and languages. They want to have the resources that are necessary to make this place feel comfortable. Attaining the language and the cultural nuances of America is essential especially for success. The question is, is it the same for students that come to the United States just to study and work for a temporary time? Does adjusting matter when you know you aren’t staying here permanently?


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