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immigrants learning english

Why is the English Language Barrier a Problem for Immigrants?

Millions of people come to the US with the same goal: to have a better life. The better life that they seek usually involves a good education, a good job that takes care of the family’s needs, and a home in a safe community. While this does not seem like a lot to ask, it will be difficult to attain without the ability to communicate fluently in English.

The English language barrier is a major problem for immigrants as communication is one of the most widely used skills. It is the primary means by which people interact with one another in many different settings. However, it is also the principal means of bridging the language barrier. It plays a vital role in the lives of immigrants who hope to succeed in America.

In light of how language barriers negatively impact immigrants socially, this article addresses six reasons why it poses a substantial problem for them. It also explores the effects on economic advancement, social integration, and the immigrants’ overall quality of life.

Medical Care

One of the areas where a language barrier is unhealthy exists in medical care. In a medical setting, an incorrect diagnosis due to miscommunication will lead to improper treatment and other serious problems. In fact, misunderstandings in communication could have deadly outcomes. There are documented cases where doctors were unable to communicate with patients in their native language, and they succumbed to their illnesses. In addition, language barriers discourage immigrants from seeking medical care or reaching out for help in accessing it. This contributes greatly to existing disparities in healthcare access.

Legal Assistance

Immigrants seeking asylum will spend some time in an immigration court, either in person or via an online platform. If they do not speak English, they must rely on an interpreter to present their case. Sometimes they do not have attorneys to represent them. It is likely that immigrants who do not have attorneys will have a decreased chance of getting a favorable decision in their cases. Without an attorney, the complex US legal system is difficult to navigate for those who do not speak English. Immigrants have rights and responsibilities under US law, but without the ability to read, write, or speak English, they are clearly at a disadvantage.

Social Integration

Integrating into the community is a very important part of the immigrant’s successful transition to life in the U.S. This integration is facilitated by communication. If the immigrant speaks English with their neighbors, the likelihood of being a part of the community is increased. When the immigrants speak English, their options in social settings are expanded. There are houses of faith, cultural activities, and businesses in public spaces where communication is important. If they cannot communicate effectively in English, they lose important social systems and meaningful connections that assist them in their quest for full community integration.

Communication is not just the ability to be understood effectively by others who speak another language. It is incorrect to assume that social behaviors in one’s country are applicable to those in the United States. There are cultural sensitivities that, if breached, can have legal consequences, even if the immigrant was unfamiliar with the social norm. This is particularly true in social interactions between men and women. For example, if a man’s behavior is offensive to a woman, she could call law enforcement. So, effective communication includes an understanding of the cultural.

Cultural Assimilation

Even though the U.S. is one of the most diverse countries in the world, cultural biases and stereotypes exist. Communication is a principal tool to explain matters and to clear up misunderstandings. It breaks down walls and increase trust among neighbors. Without this important tool, however, negative perceptions and mistrust remain unchanged. However, speaking English fluently knocks down those barriers that keep diverse communities apart. Communication facilitates a sense of community.


English is an international language and one of global business. Speaking it effectively is often a prerequisite for employment, even in many international companies. However, if the immigrants do not speak English, it hinders, if not altogether prevent, them from getting decent-paying jobs. This would certainly defeat the reason why many come to the U.S. Unemployment and underemployment result from a language barrier, but that is not all.

There is a continuing domino effect when an immigrant is unable to find gainful employment due to a language barrier. Without employment, immigrants find themselves vulnerable to poverty. This puts them in the uncomfortable position of being dependent on others for their needs. It could lead to a loss of housing, food insecurity, and the inability to financially care for themself and family. They have to rely on welfare assistance and other social programs to make ends meet. This is often not the road that immigrants wanted to take. This scenario will cause the immigrant to take a hit to their self-esteem and cause them to feel inadequate. This is particularly true if they had well-paying, professional careers in their native countries but had to uproot due to conflict. Disillusionment is often the result of discovering the harsh reality of living in a country where you do not speak the language.

Educational Achievements

While many immigrants do study English when they come to this country, it takes time to become fluent. Immigrants who seek higher education for professional goals face a barrier in institutions of higher learning whose instruction is in English. Those without English language proficiency often fall behind in their coursework or give up altogether.

Without a good education and English proficiency, immigrants are limited to jobs that remain within the Spanish-speaking community. Consequently, they experience a continual cycle of poverty and economic disadvantage. They will not have the necessary tools for the upward mobility that they seek and for which the English language is required.

A parent’s English-language deficit may impact their children’s school performance. Children of immigrant parents who do not have strong English skills may experience academic problems and lag behind other students. While schools are making their bilingual language programs more accommodating, language barriers create a disconnect between parents and teachers.

How Can immigrants Bridge the Communication Gap?

One of the best ways to learn English and tap into the incredible number of opportunities for doing so is to attend an institution that meets you at the point of your educational needs. Currently, a great school for that purpose is a technical one that not only teaches you an in-demand profession but equips you with the necessary English skills to be successful on your job. These Vocational ESL programs, by default, mitigate the problems that a language barrier creates.

In a Vocational ESL program, you will become fluent in English, which leads to economic empowerment, social integration, and gives you the tools to pass the language part of your citizenship exam. You will get a well-rounded, practical English language education that will put you on the path for upward mobility.

What Do You Learn During a Vocational ESL Program?

You will learn the core language skills of listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Equally important, you will learn the eight parts of speech, vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar. Your instructor will help you understand complex grammatical concepts in a way that are easy to digest and use in your daily conversations. And you will practice what you learned to reinforce your knowledge.

Don’t let a language barrier stop you from fulfilling your dreams. There is a Vocational ESL program at Interactive College of Technology. What students love about the Vocational ESL programs, aside from the first-class training, are the relatively short courses of study. You will be well on your way to a brighter future. The courses are convenient, and are even available online.

Want to Learn More?

Our Vocational English as a Second Language (ESL) training program is designed for student success. Interactive College of Technology offers live online and in-person English classes that fit into your busy schedule.

Our Vocational ESL classes are set up, so your English develops skill by skill. Four levels of rigorous courses help you to comprehend the English language by combining lecture, lab, class discussion, and group activities. This effective method ensures Vocational ESL students are provided English language skills as well as cultural transference.

You receive all Vocational ESL program materials to keep. You’ll also be provided with a personal email account, resume writing, and job placement assistance, media center access, and more! Our campuses are located across Georgia and Texas.

Let’s learn English together! Contact us now to learn more.

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