Reading time: 2 – 4 minutes
Well, in addition to all of the work I have to do to catch up, I also have to begin my serious interest in learning Spanish as my second language. I know a little French because of two years in high school, but I could hardly call it a second language. I’ve always wanted to learn a second language FLUENTLY, but I just never did. I’m sure that’s familiar to many.
However, now my interest in learning a second language has moved from being an interest, to being a necessity. I am confronted at least twice a week with a situation where I cannot communicate to anyone around me, especially in my neighborhood. Over the years this situation has extended from a social level and into the service industry, and unless I know Spanish, I am unable to communicate to those who are offering the service.
I think it is specifically limited to more insular communities, such as parts of my neighborhood, and I’ve seen some of this in New Jersey, too. It’s not limited to Spanish-speaking communities, because I also remember not being able to find anyone who spoke English in parts of Queens where Chinese is the primary language. I think it is the insularity that promotes this extended lack of ability to speak English, which I believe is just fine, but not in the service industry.
Just today, it took nearly 10 minutes for someone to be able to understand my order at a MACDONALD’s. (Yes, I know, why am I at a MacDonald’s in the first place, LOL!)No one around me spoke English, and none of the workers who were available spoke English. I was kept waiting while they searched to find someone to translate and speak English. This was the second time this has happened in this particular MacDonald’s. Unless all I have to do is point at a number for my order, I cannot order what I want. The reason there was confusion is because there is a new promotion for the way MacDonald’s offers their coffee. You are supposed to indicate whether you prefer “SMOOTH” or “BOLD,” and if you want cream and/or sugar to be added. No one could understand what I was trying to order, even though it was high-profile promotion that prompts a response!
Little things go a long way in creating an insular community. Even the gross Taco Bell in my neighborhood has no promotional posters in English.
By the way: yes, I like fast food. Gross. But I do.
I think if I live in a primarily-hispanic/latin community, or a primarily-Asian community, I expect to see and hear a lot of Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc, and I want to learn to speak what I can, but I don’t know if it’s such a healthy thing for a community to move into such insularity that it cuts out the rest of your world.
This prompts me to want to learn other languages even more, because insularity on a small scale is one thing, but the United States is insular on a larger scale, and I don’t want to contribute to that.