For centuries, the word “assimilation” has been the buzzword used to describe the way immigrants adapt to their new country. It’s a word to describe the process of trying to fit into a new culture, but many Latinos who come to this country face a litany of challenges during the assimilation process, as they begin to try to fit into the American culture.
A majority of the immigrants who come to the United States accept and even embrace the values and behaviors of its new culture, and perhaps there is no more critical form of “fitting in” than learning the language. It’s the primary component for simply getting through the day and, if you are unable to communicate effectively, that can put anyone at a disadvantage. That’s not to say you’re entirely helpless without knowing the language, but it can be a serious hurdle to navigate.
This brings up the question as to how language relates to assimilation. Immigrants from every background are sometimes reluctant to learn the language because they are concerned it could be the first step to the loss of their heritage. Many households will refuse to use the English language for fear that the older members of the family will lose their connection to the younger members and vice versa, which can be another step in forsaking time-honored traditions.
Becoming bilingual opens up your world even further, and it’s how you choose to “assimilate” into a culture that defines how you’re going to participate in that culture. It allows you to be able to participate in the American experience and share your new interactions and lessons with those from your own background. Language doesn’t need to a boundary. If anything it’s a passport to a larger world.
The Latino Family Literacy offers training & curriculum for educators to help with Family Engagement with English Learners. It is a White House Bright Spot Award-winner for Educational Excellence with Hispanics and provides the best culturally competent training, curriculum, and books in the USA!