Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I should not have to "Press 1 for English"...but...

So, lately, I see all over Facebook how my friends "like" a page called, "I should not have to press 1 for English" (or something like that...).

And, even though I am all for those coming here from other countries to learn English, I still find this expression a bit offensive. And I have more than one reason for it.

First reason: English is not my first language. Just for that reason, I have to sympathize with those who are not fluent and need the additional language assistance.

Second reason: Lack of compassion and empathy. No, I don't think that a younger person should come here expecting everyone to cater to him/her in their own language forever and ever. I think language assistance in the beginning, while adjusting to new surroundings, culture and a different language should be provided but only temporarily. It is the responsibility of those who come here seeking a better life to learn the language and the culture (while allowing me to continue to speak my language...but that is a different post).

However, how about those who come here having an obstacle to their learning? We all know that children learn languages faster and better. The older we get, the harder it is. So what about the elderly parents that are brought to this country because they no longer can live by themselves, so their US resident relatives bring them here? Perhaps they can try to learn. But after a certain age, that gets harder and harder.

Or what about the disabled (mentally or physically, or both) relative brought here for medical treatment, or because of the same reasons mentioned before? Or the teenager with a learning disability who will need longer time to learn than the average newly arrived person?

This is where the whole attitude changes for me. No, I should not have to press 1, or 2, or 100, for English. I know the language, right? But, as irritating as it may seem, I have to stop and think about those who don't...and about me when I was in that position, 20-some years ago, not feeling completely fluent and wishing to find someone who knew my language. Yes, I did learn. I got over it. But a little assistance during transition is not a bad thing.

So think about that the next time you have to press 1 for English. And maybe, do something to reduce the amount of people who need that feature. Offer to tutor someone in an English as a Second Language class. Teach such a class in a community center for free. Instead of complaining, give a solution, and stop bitching about having to press 1 for English! Your fingers will not fall off from it!

1 comment:

yaritza said...

I agree