When I first started my job as an ESL teacher in the States, I was telling an acquaintance about the ethnic and racial breakdown of my students, most of whom were Hispanic, some of whom were Karen, and a handful of whom were Kurdish. His response upon hearing about my sweet elementary students was, “Why would we want to teach those people English?”
I could not find words (a rarity for me) and had to walk away from the conversation.
Many people, myself included, have limited grace for the immigrant. If they don’t know English, we tend to think of them as unintelligent and “wasting our time”, the Unforgivable Sin of the United States of America.
But the real problem here isn’t that immigrants are slow or that English is too difficult. While most people would hopefully not say what my acquaintance said out loud, it is evident in the way that we interact with language learners that many of us have some prejudices (much as we may work to hide them).
After a year of living and working as a language learner, I am more convinced than ever of the prejudices in me and more committed than ever to routing them out. I wrote a guest post about this for G92 today. Won’t you read it here? And while you’re there, check out the fabulous work this organization is doing to advocate for a biblical response to immigration (and that might not mean what you think it means).
For those of you waiting for the follow up from yesterday’s post on the Rights of Citizens, check back tomorrow for the Responsibilities of Citizens).