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R-E-S-P-E-C-T E.S.L Learners

Merriam-Webster defines ESL as, “the teaching of English to people who speak a different language and who live in a country where English is the main language spoken.” English is one of the most commonly spoken languages as well as the number one most commonly learned second language worldwide. Despite this, a stigma against ESL learners and nonnative speakers in general remains prevalent in American society. I think it’s important to recognize the value of ESL learners and some of the struggles that they face.

To begin, learning another language is hard. It is difficult to learn how to express yourself in another language which is not your native tongue. Especially one like English which has many silent letters and rules, which can take years to understand (and sometimes are never quite understood, even by native speakers). Learning another language through immersion in the culture is intense and can lead to culture shock. 

Culture shock occurs when an individual is emerged in a culture unlike their own. This can cause confusion or uncertainty due to the abrupt change in thinking as a result of the culture shift.  Especially for individuals who have not lived in a Western culture before, the adjustment can be quite difficult. 

Many ESL learners are trying to learn English in order to move ahead in life. This leads to opportunities for them and their families which often have not have been there otherwise. It is hypocritical for Americans to criticize ESL individuals when the American Dream is about finding new opportunities for advancement and betterment. 

Overall, it’s important to recognize the struggles that ESL learners face and recognize a privilege which many English speakers did not even know they had- being a native English speaker in a world dominated by English and the Western culture which often accompanies it. 


Sources: http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/ESL


Eva Steepe

C Mich '22

Eva Steepe is a sophomore at Central Michigan University. She is majoring in English Literature with minors in French and Leadership. She loves to learn about anything and everything and is passionate about someday seeing the world.
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