Learning English


One of the hardest transitions from Mexico to the United States was the language barrier. In middle school, they taught us some English but not enough to be fluent. I only knew bits and pieces when I came over to the United States. The first week that I was in the United States, my brother suggested that I start going to these English classes at the local elementary school. The classes were at night after work, and they were taught by some very nice, old ladies. I decided to give it a shot because my brother had learned a lot of English by going to these classes. I liked going to the classes even though my body was usually exhausted after a hard day’s work. After the class, I would walk over to my aunt’s house because she lived near the elementary school.391054981_eae7b48382_o I would wait there and visit with her until my brother came to pick me up. One night after class, I started to walk to my aunt’s house when two guys started to follow me. They started to call me and whistle for me to slow down, but I walked faster because I knew they wanted to mug me. I started walking faster and faster until I took off in a sprint. The two gangsters chased after me, but I was much faster than them.

Finally, I made it to my aunt’s house, and as soon as I walked in the door I told my aunt that I was done with those classes. I did not want to take that chance again so I never went back. Although I stopped going to the English classes down at the school I was able to start learning English from other interactions.

I learned that language was often a huge barrier at work. One of the last jobs that I worked in Arizona was as a custodian at my children’s school. I felt that I was a very good worker so I decided to apply for the night shift manager position. The principal called me into her office to ask me why I thought that I deserved the position.  She told me that I was a very good worker, but it would be difficult to manage others since I did not know English. I had to think fast so I told her that custodian was one of those jobs that you don’t have to speak English in order to show someone how to clean a toilet. I guess my answer worked because she gave me the job on the spot!

Click Here to Hear Pedro Tell the Custodian Story