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Saturday, January 28, 2012


A recent Facebook post  by a family member inspired this post. The post (I come from a Mexican family) said that even though they are Mexican, they think that all Mexican immigrants should know or learn English. That's definitely the way I felt before I moved to Korea.

Before moving to Korea I worked for a communications company doing billing. If a Spanish-speaking person called in, I just transferred them to the Spanish line. I feel like that's the way most big companies are moving towards. There is such an influx population of individuals who cannot communicate in English so companies are making changes to accommodate them.

Once again, before moving to Korea, I would probably be outraged if a job requirement that I was qualified for demanded that I be fluent in Spanish. I would think, "They came to our country. They should know English. Period." But Korea changed me.

I don't know Korean. Period. Yet in Korea, I can always find someone who can communicate minimally with me. Even if it's a Konglish conversation with ridiculous hand gestures and picture-drawing, we communicate. My bank's website is in Korean and English. McDonald's menu is in Korean and English (as are a lot of restaurant menus).

I used to believe that if someone is here (America) to live, they should know the language or at least be making a serious attempt to learn it. I live in Korea. I'm not making any attempt other than what I pick up along the way to learn the language.

My view here is that I'm not here for good. I'm just here temporarily to make money and basically have a good time until I return to America. Well, who's to say that's what Mexicans aren't doing. Maybe they're here temporarily to make money so their children in Mexico can eat. And soon they hope to be financially stable enough to return to Mexico.

Korea really opened my eyes to how close-minded Americans are. Right now I can only ask for a beer and tell you that I'm drunk in Spanish but I'm inspired to be able to communicate to a growing population in my home land.

I can also count to twenty and I've mastered greetings in Spanish. Boo-ya!

Hola. Como estas?
Muy Bien. Y tu?

Please leave responses in the below comment section. Por favor.


  1. Lol glad my post inspired you cousin. But its not what they are doin here in America. Korea i understand why they have it in two languages. Because they have brought you there. Im sorry if you have a American restaurant there yes have its menu in English. Especially if you welcome Americans there. Im just saying Mexicans come here to live not to just visit n work n then go home. But if your here learn English or go back home to Mexico.

  2. In terms of world language usage, how much does Korean fraction into the mix? I think one factor for a baseline language in the United States is because there's a certain impracticality of accommodating so many different languages over the phone, on a menu, on a street sign, in a book, in class etc. Who decides what additional language does get preferential treatment? Do you think there's a reason your experiences allowed Korean or English, instead of Korean and a different language?

  3. I definitely agree about language perception changing after leaving the U.S. Even though I can't say I've totally shared in the "you're here so you learn the language" mentality, I really got to see what that meant when I came to Spain. Now I usually just feel like my circumstances are what shape my linguistic world view. The world is moving more and more towards English, and I'm just lucky I was born in a country where it's my first language. I think the American attitude of "learn it or go home" is very shaped by the fact that we speak English. Most other countries don't act that way toward foreigners, instead they accommodate. I'm not saying that immigrants shouldn't learn the language of their chosen country, but I do think that being a native English speaker often creates an attitude of hostility. Because English is my first language, I'll never really know what it's like to not speak the language of global politics, business, or pop culture. I think it's sometimes good to remember how lucky we are that we speak a language with so much global prevalence!


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