Many trying to learn a difficult language, but can use help |

Many trying to learn a difficult language, but can use help

Dear Editor,

This is in response to Dana Andersen’s letter in the June 24 issue of the Glenwood Springs Post Independent regarding many service people’s lack of fluent English. Learning any language is difficult, but learning English is especially challenging.

Studies show that it will take the average adult seven to 10 years to become fluent in English. If you entered this country when you were younger than 12, you might learn a little faster, perhaps in five to seven years.

Why does it take so long? There are over 600,000 words in the English language. Although English has only 26 letters in the alphabet it has 44 different sounds. The pronunciation of English has changed greatly since the 15th century; however, the spelling of English words has altered very little over the same period. As a result, English spelling is not a reliable guide to the pronunciation of the language. This makes learning the language even more difficult for a visual learner.

Last year Literacy Outreach helped 130 students in Garfield County reach their literacy goals. In addition, Colorado Mountain College served 5,027 learners college-wide in their English as a Second Language classes during the past academic year. Our students are eager to learn, sometimes waiting six months for a volunteer tutor to help them because they were unable to attend class at CMC. All of these students are committed to improving their language skills and often go to great lengths to make this happen.

While I can understand Ms. Andersen’s frustration, please know that many people in our community are putting forth tremendous effort to learn English. If anyone would like to help someone learn English or make a donation, Literacy Outreach can be reached at 945-5282.


Martha Fredendall,


Literacy Outreach

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