It baffles me that my 25-year-old cousin who has lived in the US for the past 5 years does not want to learn English. He said that it is too difficult for him as he is bad with languages. Besides, he claims that he can get along just fine without speaking it. I have urged, begged, cajoled, and threatened him to reconsider. I feel that a person MUST learn to speak and read the official language of the country that they reside in. Otherwise, what will one do when how else will he handle himself in situations such as:
(1) Calling 911 when there is an emergency?
(2) Understanding important documents such as mortgages and etc?
(3) Ordering food in a non-Chinese restaurant?
Besides, I do not buy into the fact that it is too difficult to learn English at his age especially considering that he immigrated to the US at age 19 and had known since age 8 that he was on the immigration waiting line. Comparatively, my dad learned English at the age of 31 and completed his bachelor’s degree at 38.
What it boils down to, is motivation. My cousin works as a waiter, and what he earns now in one month is more than 18X his old monthly salary in China. On his days off, he is too busy propping up the economy to consider taking a language class. Besides, nowadays it is entirely possible to work and live in NYC without ever learning to speak English. I am not sure that it is a good thing.
Sure it might be easier to not learn English especially if you are tired from a hard day’s work. But it will severely limit your income potential for the future. But my cousin is young and believes himself to be invincible at his age. He laughs off my concerns for him. At this point there is nothing else for me to do except watch him make his own mistakes.