International Migration

by Yurino Kawamura

One of the major reasons people seek to live in another country is to obtain better living for themselves and their families. It is true that some families rely their living on money sent from their family member working in foreign country, such as the United States. However, immigrants in those countries tend to engage in jobs with relatively low salary and harsh environment. There are several reasons, but taking the example of United States, lack in English communication skills is a major reason that makes international immigrants difficult to get better jobs. This would lead to a serious problem when immigrants try to raise family in the United States. Since their wages are relatively low, they could less likely afford to let their children go to private schools. Therefore the second-generation children would study only in English, while speaking their mother tongue at home only. These children tend to prefer English more than their first language as they grow up and spend more time in the English-only community. This will cause a communication gap between the second-generation children and their parents who have difficulties in English communication. Second-generation children would eventually be assimilated to the American culture, fading from their original countries’ customs. Moreover, the communication gap between their parents would increase their possibilities to misbehave in their lives and sink downward into lower class. Who would like to live such a life in the country where they are struggling to live better life?

To break out of this negative spiral, I would like to point that creating more opportunities for the first-generation immigrants to gain communication skills in the country’s language, in this case English, may play an important role. If first-generation immigrants could acquire English skills, they would have substantially broader range of job opportunities, such as managements of other workers. It may sound counterproductive, but teaching English to the immigrants may facilitate them to keep their mother tongue and culture active. If first-generation immigrants acquire adequate English skills and work with higher wages, they are able to spend more money on their children’s education so that they can grow up as a true bilingual individual. Even if their children would prefer English over their mother tongue, if parents feel no hesitate in English communication with their children, there are more chances that children can get more support and guidance from their parents to keep themselves away from delinquency. The point is that this must not lead into a linguistic assimilation, but rather to a community with mixed culture and language with mutual respect and understanding.

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