Language Learning
In the past few months I had the opportunity to meet a vast group of individuals of many different cultural backgrounds, from whom I learned that despite all our differences,
we are all seeking the same American Dream:
the determination to overcome our struggles, whatever those struggles might be.

For many immigrants, the acculturation process is a challenge that alters their social behavior as well as their economic and political life. One of the most common struggles that affect their adaptation process is the language barrier. Many immigrants living in the United States have limited English language skills, even though some of them have been residing in the United States for many years.  Some of them have been living in the U.S for more than 20 years, but because they’ve spent most of their time within their small communities, learning English was not a necessity for them.
 
While maintaining a deep connection to your culture and customs, you should also engage in activities that take place outside your community. Attending small events at the public library or volunteering a few hours a week at your child’s school can make a big difference when it comes to overcoming the language barrier.  
 
Just because you don’t speak the language doesn't mean that you cannot learn it. When it comes to speaking a foreign language, we all have our fears and struggles, but by avoiding them, we’re just ignoring the obvious: the need to feel part of the community we live in.  After having my doubts about being able to acquire good language skills while learning both English and Spanish, I can only tell you that practice makes perfect.  Even though I am still learning and improving my language skills,  I would like to share with you some suggestions that will help you break the language barrier.
 
Start reading books in English. You will acquire new vocabulary, and you will see a significant improvement in your communication skills. I love reading books, mostly self-help books, and non-fiction, but I also try to read the local newspaper or my favorite magazine even if it’s for 15-20 minutes every day. I always come across new words during my readings, and I usually underline them and search for their meaning. Once I learn a new word, it’s strange how many times I come across that same word over and over again, both in my readings and in my day-to-day life. Reading is an eye opener.
 
Look for opportunities to participate in local events, where cultural experiences are the primary focus. You can attend a book fair or buy your groceries at the local farmer’s market, or any other event that promotes and supports the locals and their work. I like to attend cultural events because I have the chance to meet someone new, and I get an insight into the cultural customs of a particular community.
 
Watch your favorite documentary in English. Although I don’t have the patience or the interest to spend too much time in front of the TV, I do enjoy watching good documentaries on topics such as education, science, and history.  Not only I get to expand my vocabulary, but I also learn new things about the world in which we live.
 
Take some English classes and begin writing your thoughts on a daily basis. If you want to acquire professional language skills, it is critical to take some English classes. After my first year in the U.S, I decided that I want to enroll in an English class at my local community college. I haven’t started the classes yet, but I am sure that my language skills will improve considerably after a few classes.   
 
Last but not least, one of the most efficient ways to break the language barrier is to speak the language. All the activities mentioned above are of great help, but if you don’t do the talking part, it will be difficult to overcome the language barrier. Start engaging in conversations every day with people from within your community, and try to express your ideas in English, even though you are not sure of how to say or pronounce some words. You will became more fluent in English, and you will be able to organize better your thoughts.
 
While moving to a new country comes with a lot of challenges and adjustments, one of the most important and meaningful aspects of living my life abroad is that I can continue to have many learning opportunities.  And language learning is just one of them!  

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