The Pacific Index

Alfaro looks at impact of immigrant illiteracy

Holly Bartholomew

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Senior Lauren Gonzales Alfaro realized there was an issue with illiteracy in immigrants from Mexico when she married into a Mexican family. This realization prompted her to spend a year and a half working on a senior project targeting the issue.

Alfaro’s presentation for her Spanish capstone covered the causes of illiteracy in Mexican immigrants and some of its many repercussions.

The problem, as Alfaro described, stems from the rural areas of Mexico where many people speak indigenous languages, instead of Spanish, as their first language. These students face many obstacles at schools where students are expected to know Spanish as a first language. Discouraged by discrimination, government corruption and innumerable other hindrances to their education, these student give up their schooling early.

Alfaro explained how the ability to understand the functionality of language that comes with literacy in any language is necessary to become literate in a new language.

This makes it nearly impossible for these people to learn English because they never had that basic knowledge of the language in Spanish.

Alfaro then described some of the reasons why “illiteracy is a huge barrier” for people who come to America looking to improve their lives. The inability to read and write prevents people from obtaining and communicating the information necessary to carry on with their day to day lives.

Immigrants who are illiterate in Spanish also face discrimination within the Spanish-speaking immigrant community.

To conclude her presentation, Alfaro described how the first step in finding a solution to this problem is to let the general public know that this issue exists.

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Alfaro looks at impact of immigrant illiteracy