Yes, a tiny group of immigrants will thrive without learning English, but mastering English is a prerequisite to becoming part of the middle class in today’s America. It’s why immigrants flock to free or low-cost English language programs that community colleges across the nation offer.
Sadly, the patchwork of private and government money falls far short of meeting demand. Right now at LaGuardia Community College, people hungry to learn English are placed on a waiting list that extends up to two years.
If we want immigrants to prosper, and to advance our democracy, it is a huge mistake to tell those who are desperate to learn English today to take a number and we’ll get back to them in a couple of years.
Sadly, many people think immigrants don’t want to learn English. That’s just not true. Wait lists for English classes are common in California as well. We need more online opportunities to improve English skills.