Immigrants And Assimilation Into American Society

1208 words - 5 pages

Immigrants and Assimilation into American Society

Several years ago, America was taught to be a 'melting pot,' a place where immigrants of different cultures or races form an integrated society, but now America is more of a 'salad bowl' where instead of forming an incorporated entity the people who make up the bowl are unwilling to unite as one. America started as an immigrant nation and has continued to be so. People all over the world come to America for several reasons. Most people come to America voluntarily, but very few come unwillingly. For whatever reasons they may have for coming they all have to face exposure to American society. When exposed to this 'new' society they choose whether to assimilate or not. Assimilation in any society is complex. Since assimilation is not simple, people will have negative experiences when assimilating into American society.

In American society, learning to speak English properly is a crucial factor in assimilation. People who have decided to come to America have found it rather difficult to assimilate into American society for several reasons. One reason being that learning a new language is or can be considerably difficult depending on your age. This is so because the act of learning a new language such as English, is much more difficult for an elderly person than for one who has not reached adolescence. According to Grognet, for elderly people there are several factors that affect their willingness to learn. Among those factors are, physical health, mental health, cultural expectations, attitude, motivation and finally the ability to acquire the correct diction, and to suitable articulation (Grognet 296-297). For a person who has not reached the prepubescent age, it is easier to acclimatize into a new society for various reasons. As a child, one is not fully habituated to a certain culture or society. Another reason is that children learn a language by imitating the sounds they hear (mimicry) without an accent. This enables children to obtain a correct diction. Here a child has a positive experience and is able to assimilate with ease. On the other hand, an elderly person will find the learning process a challenge and to a certain extent the situation might even be so burdensome that one loses interest in learning. In Amy Tan?s speech My Mother?s English, she explains the difficulties her mother faced because she (Tan?s mother) was unable to clearly express herself. She (Tan) also felt the effects of this as a child. Not only did Tan?s mother find speaking English a barrier in the process of assimilation, but Tan herself felt her mother limited her perception (Tan 45). Since Tan?s mother was unable to speak English properly people would not give her good service and would not treat her seriously even to the extant that people ?pretended not to understand her or even acted as if they did not hear her,?(Tan 45). This is just one example of many that shows how some people have had...

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