Burmese Karen Parents Struggle to Learn English

Throughout this lab, I have worked with Dahtoo’s family members as a tutor. At first, I didn’t think this was going to be interesting, my plan was to finish my tutoring hours to fulfill the lab requirements. However, over my experiences with this family I have realized a lot of things that have not ever crossed my mind. Firstly, the concept of assertion; Dahtou and her family have brought their own culture from home and are constantly asserting it into American culture. It goes from native decorations, to native foods, to how they dress and are very hospitable when receiving guests. I realized that the notion of respect is very important in their culture; they always showed most respect but are also teaching their kids to do the same.      The elders always asked the children to behave, give them orders like go to another room, do homework or go to bed; the kids never complain but acted accordingly.

The children are much more educated than the parents because they go to school in the United States but the parents have never received an educational degree.  In fact, the children were very helpful in terms of translating some words to their parents or helping them understand a word or even an expression. This suggests dissonant acculturation because the children and parents acculturated at different rates. This  is very common for immigrants because the parents speak their native language and barely any English. However, a lot of credit goes to the parents for putting their kids into schools to learn English so they can maybe have a better life and be successful.

Even though the parents had a low English level, they showed interest in learning and were willing to do anything to improve: repeating one word ten times was not a problem for them, as long as they were learning something.

Working with this family was such a memorable experience for me, it went beyond tutoring, by making me learn more about their lives and their personalities as well as how they reflect their culture and assert it into the American one.  Kanzy E.

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