Hannah asked in Society & CultureLanguages · 1 decade ago

Are there people in the US that can't speak English?

I hear so many people talking about the mexicans and the spanish speaking people in the US who can't speak english, and I just don't get it. english is my second language and I've never been to an english speaking country, but I can still speak it almost like it was my first language. if I were living in america for just a while, I bet no one would be able to tell me from a native speaker.

how hard can it be to learn english? since they are immersed in the language, they should be able to pick it up, right?

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  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    1) Yes, there are people in the US who speak little to no English and they're not just Mexicans. I have no political opinions about this. No one should be forced to learn anything but by not being able to at least understand the language of the country that you intend to stay more than 6 months, you are missing out on a lot of the stuff happening around you.

    2) What country do you live in? If you're in Germany, the Netherlands, anywhere in Scandinavia, etc., it's not surprising at all that you speak English almost as well as your first language for many reasons: One, because your mother tongue is Germanic and so is English. Two, many English-language entertainment sources are not dubbed into your native language but rather subtitled, allowing you to "hear" English more often. This isn't the case for other European countries like Spain or France.

    3) You said that if you were living in America, no one could probably tell you weren't a native speaker. Well, good for you and it helps if you're white because you'd blend in with the majority. I have fourth generation Japanese-American friends (who basically speak English like white people and speak absolutely no Japanese because of the obvious generation loss) and they sometimes get asked if they speak English because of their appearance which is pretty sad.

    4) How hard can learning English be? Well, if you come from a non-Germanic and/or non-Indo-European language background, it can be quite daunting.

    5) If they're immersed (what you probably meant is living in an English-speaking country like the US), they'll learn automatically.. that was your question. Well, not necessarily because immigrants tend to live in their own communities where they can get jobs and receive help from their own kinds so they'll likely to realize that they don't really have to learn English after all. Plus, with their busy hectic life trying to make a living while adjusting to a new life in America, they might not even have the time or financial sources to learn English well. Some immigrants are nearly or completely illiterate in their own languages coming to America. The question here is, if they can't even read and write in their own languages, how are they gonna learn English? Think about that.

    Hope that helps. :)

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Yes, there are many.

    It has much less to do with it being difficult to learn, and some to do with laziness, but also a lot of the problem is that people simply don't have to. Even if you assume that there aren't translators, people bring their children along to translate for them...difficult, you know, when a teacher wants to have a confidential discussion about the child, and the child is the communication facilitator.

    The thing is, many people are NOT immersed in the language. They have their own stores they can shop in, where everyone speaks their language (and it isn't only Spanish, you know...my grandparents moved to the US, and didn't speak English, and there was a whole community of people that spoke THEIR language. There are many such communities today, too).

    A big difference is that in the past, it was still encouraged that people learn English. Today, not so much. It's important to keep the old language. And some don't get out enough to learn English. It's an interesting study.

  • 1 decade ago

    There are people in all countries who aren't able to speak that language and the reasons are varied. Not everyone has the linguistic skills to learn a new language, or can be bothered to do so. In a country such as the US or the UK often you will find members of minority ethnic groups interacting only amongst themselves (although this is the exception rather than the rule) therefore the need to learn a new language is no longer as important, especially if there's a family member who can act as a translator.

  • ?
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    er, um, yup but some people can't learn a second language no matter how long they listen to it - My Greek neighbour still says, 'it's raine' after 50 years in the country

    english is a very tricky language to learn on the other hand hollywood movies make it almost impossible to avoid learning it. Difficult if all your energy is absorbed from a young age earning a living as opposed to being a full time student and that training would show you how to absorb the language much more easily.

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  • 1 decade ago

    There are actually many other languages spoken in the US. Spanish is the second, next to English. Many schools actually require english speaking students to learn spanish. Although It may seem they could pick it up, some can, but for others it is much harder and takes extened amounts of time.

  • 1 decade ago

    If you're immersed, yes. But it is possible in some communities to remain isolated. If you're here for construction work and most of the crew you work with speaks your language, and you never go into town or interact with natives, then there isn't much opportunity or incentive to learn English.

    Same thing with Americans who go to other countries to work. They can stay on the American compound, eat American food, talk all day with other Americans, and never learn the native language. Or they can go into town and immerse themselves.

  • 1 decade ago

    Yes, there are many people who live inside communities from immigrants from their countries and never learn to speak English. Today, it is perfectly possible to live anywhere in the USA without speaking English if you can speak Spanish.

  • 1 decade ago

    There are a fair amount of people that can not speak it here. Some of them came from other countries and just don't want to go through the trouble of learning it.

    I know some people that have learned it with ease while others that have been here for years just never wanted to try.

    Source(s): Know a few of them.
  • 1 decade ago

    1/2 of the population can't speak English. Go to McDonald's and try to place an order.

  • 1 decade ago

    And you questions is??????!!!!!!!!

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