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Older Immigrants Offer Advice to Newer Ones

July 18, 1993

Re: "They Don't Understand" (July 5): To the people struggling with American culture and language, there is a simple solution: Retain your second language and culture, by all means, but learn English. We, too, were immigrants and suffered the same agonies described by other immigrants. Perseverance continued and my parents took the oath of citizenship in English with thankfulness for this country's greatest gift--freedom.

ANNA W. COLLONE

Santa Monica

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The school system is one area where the linguistic barrier creates feelings of frustration and discord.

As an educator, there are things I can do to help my students who are different from myself. I can familiarize myself with the cultures of my students so I can understand their beliefs. I can incorporate a variety of teaching techniques helpful with limited-English students. I can put in extra hours of my own time to help a student catch up with English-speaking peers.

What I do not feel is fair is to ask me and other teachers to be able to speak the many languages that are represented. I find it sad that someone with a master's degree, a California teaching credential and any other combination of special training and experience is often not qualified to teach in an American school because they are not fluent in Chinese, Korean, Armenian or another of the languages represented here.

For the record, I am bilingual--Spanish/English. That doesn't cut it anymore. The dominance of Spanish in the Southland has shifted to include an amazing number of languages. In light of this, there must also be a shift toward acceptance of a common language if our children are to be educated on an equal level regardless of culture or birthplace.

LEAH MELBER

Santa Monica

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