How to encourage a parent to learn English?

<p>My mom has lived in this country for 19 years now and still cannot really speak English. I know it's difficult to become fluent in another language as an adult, but it makes no sense to permanently move to a country where you plan to live until you die and never learn the language. She has taken 2 ESL classes for immigrant adults at a CC and CUNY school, but it didn't help at all. Also:</p>

<ul>
<li><p>Not knowing English makes her helpless: she can't communicate well at the supermarket, if she needs directions, if she's sick and needs to go to the Doctor, see the Dentist, etc</p></li>
<li><p>She's a housewife but never attends parent-teacher conferences or gets involved in my little sister's school life because she can't communicate well to teachers/parents</p></li>
<li><p>She can never really talk to neighbors, or parents of her kid's friends when they meet at community events or barbecues or anywhere; her friends are all immigrants from her native country - that's her choice, but it limits her life</p></li>
<li><p>If something were to happen to my Dad, she wouldn't be able to get a job or support herself or my 7 year old sister because of the language barrier - she is very dependent on my dad</p></li>
<li><p>My sister and I are not entirely fluent in her native language so this makes it hard for us to understand each other</p></li>
<li><p>my dad, siblings and I all speak in English to each other, and only switch to my parent's native language when she's present; this makes it hard to have family discussions</p></li>
</ul>

<p>tell what u have just written to her :)</p>

<p>^ She doesn't care. Sometimes in a frustrating situation it bothers her she can't speak English but 98% of the time she's content this way. </p>

<p>I should add that she's from a culture where women are raised to be very submissive and dependent on their husbands so that's part of why she's content to be helpless. Some of her friends (who are also immigrants) are in their forties and live in suburban America but never even learned to drive for this reason. That's their business but it really bothers me she never learned to speak English. </p>

<p>When I went on vacation to Italy and Mexico, I learned Italian and Spanish phrases - I think it's rude to not make any effort. That was just for vacation. I think permanently immigrating and never learning the language is frankly stupid and even disrespectful toward your new country and your family - growing up it was very hard to have a mother who couldn't communicate at a basic level.</p>

<p>This is a difficult situation. Since she seems to be more submissive to her husband, maybe he should insist that she learn.He can do this by making everyone speak english. I believe if everyone refuses to talk in the native language while shes around, it will force her to learn english. It may sound kind of mean, but as you said shes losing out on a lot(socially etc). Just my humble opinion...all the best.</p>

<p>This is relatively common for women in your mom's position, especially if you live in an area with a large population of people who speak your mother's native language, ie. Little Havana in Miami. I think that you should sit down with her and express your concerns. You said that she has taken ESL classes before, was there a reason she didn't continue? Does she have a friend that she could attend with? That would make it more fun for her and give her a study partner. The other thing she could try is a computer based language program like Rosetta Stone. I know several people who have had great success with that.</p>

<p>*-Buy her a basic beginning English Book.
-Encourage her to listen the radio.
-Tell her you will teach her: everyday teach her some words.</p>

<p>*-Prepare flashcards [Free for you] every day a new world--place them in the refrigerator. Example: Apples=Manzanas.</p>

<p>As nyc say share your concerns and offer to help her.</p>

<p>You are a good and smart child--showing your concerns. You can help her, yes you can!</p>

<p>My mom and I came to US 10 years ago. My mom is the same as your mom - her english sucks. She has taken an English class here, but has always relied on me and my dad to do her homework. One day, her class would be in awe at how good my mom can write, but on an in class essay, people can't understand what she's saying.</p>

<p>In contrast to your mom, my mom's excuse is that she's too old to learn new things. She's like the exact opposite of Betty White. My mom's Visa is expiring, and she's going back to homeland in 4 days. I'm actually quite happy about that, and I don't feel guilty for thinking that way. Back home, she'll be able to communicate fluently with people and understand what people say on TV. It maybe a good idea for your mom to go back home too, even though your mom came here 9 years earlier than my mom. Food for thought.</p>

<p>Thank you for all of the helpful replies!</p>

<p>By submissive I didn't mean my dad bosses her about; I mean she's just very dependent. He has encouraged her to learn English, he insisted on her taking classes, etc - but she is an adult and ultimately it's up to her, really.</p>

<p>The classes were only 2-3 months long and she completed them, just didn't learn much. American teens study Foreign language in HS for years, but most of us never really learn Spanish or French - similarly, ESL students often don't really learn English. Plus I don't think she took it seriously, ever. </p>

<p>My hometown is very Irish-Catholic, there are not many families of my background at all so that is not an excuse - there are like 4 other families of our ethnic group in town and naturally she befriended them. </p>

<p>Rosette Stone is a good idea, I don't know why we didn't think of it. Probably because she's not good with computers - she can barely send an email! I don't think she'd be comfortable with Rosetta Stone. I think flashcards would be better, but I don't know how to read or write in her native language at all. We have some ESL books at home, but I don't think she ever reads them.</p>

<p>@ISU: She's a US citizen and has a husband and 3 kids here - the youngest is only 7. She's not going to randomly move across the world and dump her family! She has nothing back in her native country - both of her parents are dead, she has cousins there but her real family is here. Plus it's a developing country and her life in America is pretty good. :) She watches TV here in her native language too, we have international channels of course haha</p>

<p>This is exactly like my mom. We came here 15 years ago and during that time, she has not attempted to learn English beyond simple words and phrases like "Hi" or "How are you?". We've begged her countless of times to take an English course or learn by a book, but she doesn't have any desire to do so. She is extremely dependent on my dad; she does not work. I've given up nagging her to learn English. If she wants to learn it'll be because she wants to not because we want her to. Though I'm not counting on it to happen anytime soon.</p>

<p>my grandma knew english when she worked and refuses to speak it, but then she does have memory loss after a stroke a long time ago and it might be that she doesn't know (but really she does, she's just odd)</p>

<p>but I don't know, honestly I think if I only spoke spanish I would be fine in my neighborhood (there are kids in my HS that don't care to speak english, they're only trouble is the TAKS test) and english is one of the hardest languages to learn so I actually get why some people don't bother, don't push it too much and figure out more why she doesn't want to learn</p>

<p>Oh and the way everyone I know in ESL learned was actually just by watching TV and putting themselves in situations of only english.</p>

<p>If she spoke Spanish and we lived in a primarily Hispanic neighborhood, it wouldn't be much of a problem. But our ethnicity accounts for less than 1% of the US population and only half the people in our ethnic group speak the language she speaks. And we live in a very Irish-Catholic town in a predominantly White area. Not knowing the language limits someone a lot.
[quote]
Oh and the way everyone I know in ESL learned was actually just by watching TV and putting themselves in situations of only english.

[/quote]
Yeah I think immersing yourself in a language can be a better way to learn it - reading books, magazines, newspapers, watching TV and movies in that language, etc
[quote]
o. She is extremely dependent on my dad; she does not work. I've given up nagging her to learn English. If she wants to learn it'll be because she wants to not because we want her to. Though I'm not counting on it to happen anytime soon.

[/quote]
Same here - it'll happen because she really wants to. But I'm trying to figure out how I can make her want to lol. It is very inconvenient not to speak English in a mostly White New England state.</p>

<p>I hope this doesn't sound intrusive, but where is your family from?</p>

<p>My mom also struggled to learn English.</p>

<p>Are your mom's friends good at English? What helped my mom the most was her new friends teaching her English (and how to drive) when she first moved here. Talk to them, if possible.</p>

<p>I think you're just pushing too hard.</p>

<p>English, as common as it is in the United States, is neither the official language nor the "language of the land." It just happens to be overwhelmingly popular.</p>

<p>While I see how learning English may be useful, there is no obligation to learn English.</p>

<p>In some states (eg. California), they are accomodating enough to let you fill out several official forms in your language of choice.</p>

<p>If your mom sees on reason to learn English, why push the issue? Things have been fine for 19yr and most likely will be for the rest of her life.</p>

<p>@excelblue: I'm not pushing too hard, haven't done anything yet lol. The fact is she is VERY dependent on her children, but my brother and I are both in college - we're not around that much for her to depend on anymore.</p>

<p>To clarify: We do not live in California or states with a large minority population, and we are not Hispanic. We live in a very White state and less than 0.5% of Americans speak her native language. If we were Latinos living in Miami it would be different of course. </p>

<ul>
<li><p>When she answers the phone, 90% of the time the person will talk to her in English, and so she's forced to hand it to someone else because she can't communicate</p></li>
<li><p>If she's sick, she can't explain exactly what is wrong with her to a physician without a translator (usually me except I'm in college now)</p></li>
<li><p>If she's lost and needs directions, it's hard for her to ask, let alone comprehend an answer - she has GPS in her car now for that reason though</p></li>
<li><p>She can't assist in any of my little sister's school events like PTA or stuff like that, even though I think she would like to</p></li>
<li><p>She isn't eligible to apply to any type of jobs she's interested in</p></li>
<li><p>My siblings and I don't speak her language that well, making it hard for her own kids to communicate to her! We grew up in a Tri-lingual house but I'm never certain of what I'm saying if not in English and often conversations end with everyone being frustrated. :(</p></li>
</ul>

<p>@EmoryLegacy: She is Syrian, but my dad's side is not, leading to more problems because Dad's side doesn't like that she doesn't talk to them much - because she really can't.</p>