Causes

Proposed “Americanization movement” targeting immigrants flawed

Proposed “Americanization movement” targeting immigrants flawed

LatinaLista — In 2006, President Bush established the Task Force on New Americans. The Task Force's objectives are "to help immigrants learn English, embrace the common core of American civic culture, and fully become American."

Alfonso Aguilar, USCIS Chief of the Office of Citizenship and Chair of the Task Force's Technical Committee, discusses first-year initiatives during a press conference at the U.S. Department of the Treasury in Washington, DC, June 12, 2007
(Source: dhs.gov)

In align with their objectives, the Task Force released a report this week that advises the federal government to take a leadership role in an "Americanization movement." What they want to see happen is an aggressive effort to teach immigrants English and U.S. History. Otherwise, Task Force officials feel:

"If this "Americanization" fails, the nation could see major problems in 20 or 30 years, with foreign-born populations detached from the larger society and engaging in anti-social behavior."

There's no disputing that both of those doomsday predictions could come to pass but before the government begins their aggressive efforts, there are two things they need to know.


Before teaching U.S. History to classes comprised of new immigrants, it would be a good idea to revise those history books once and for all.
While the main stories are the same, it's time to include the contributions of everyone else (read other ethnicities) who created to the greatness of this country. It's time to include the roles played by Latinos, African Americans and Asian Americans in the creation of this country.
History classes that truly reflect the diverse contributions that grew this country would be lessons that could also aspire a new generation of Americans to achieve what others, who looked like them, achieved. In the process, this history would resonate more loudly and foster a greater sense of pride and connection to this country.
Secondly, it's long been known by those who service the immigrant population that there are not enough English classes for all the people who want to learn it. Over the years, the fallacy has been perpetuated by those, who enjoy spreading false rumors about immigrants, that they don't want to learn English.
Again, there not enough classes or convenient times for someone who is tired from working 2-3 jobs to sit and stay awake in class. The Task Force recommends that state governments develop Internet-based electronic learning tools for adults to learn English but the problem with that is that not all immigrant families have Internet access in their homes — the place most likely where they would access English-learning sites.
One possible solution to the English class crunch is for cities to delegate some of their public cable access channels to nothing but televised English classes — 24/7. While the solution is not ideal because it doesn't allow for the teacher/student interaction, it's a lot better than nothing at all.
Another solution has to do with cell phones. The Centers for Disease Control released the report Wireless Substitution: Early Release of Estimates From the National Health Interview Survey, January-June 2008 where the author discovered that more Latinos, than Anglos or blacks, carry a cell phone.

It's an interesting acknowledgement because of something that Nokia has recently developed for their Chinese customers — mobile English classes.
Nokia has created a new learning application software for their mobile devices; they call it mobiledu.cn.
BBC Learning English is the international content provider for the service which features a number of English tests and practice questions for learning survival English and business English.

"Nokia Mobiledu brings users a truly seamless English learning experience by integrating learning with life; learning English on the go, anywhere and anytime. I believe Mobiledu will help English learners realize their dreams," said Angela Long, Nokia Sales and Marketing Manager of Mobiledu.cn…
Using the platform, it's possible to learn the English language at one's own pace and when they need it – whether it is to study abroad or to improve career development. The mobile learning platform also helps users to learn the English language inexpensively and without having to hunt the Internet to find translations.

If this kind of application is available in China, there's no reason why it can't be made available in the United States. With cell phones so ubiquitous among Latinos in the United States, this alternative easily enables immigrants to achieve the goals of the Task Force's recommendations.
For some reason, there is an assumption that it will be an uphill battle to get immigrants to assimilate. That's not the problem. It's when the federal government attaches exorbitant fees to the process that creates resistance.
If the government was truly sincere about wanting to help immigrants assimilate, then they should make the process affordable and as convenient as possible. It's one thing to make people work to receive their citizenship but it's quite another to make them suffer for it.

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