Friday, October 19, 2007

Requiring English from more than immigrants.

For the past year or so in the news there have been stories about people/communities wanting English to be the declared national language of the United States and to require all immigrants to speak English. I'm wondering how we can require this of immigrants when we have an entire home-grown industry filled with non-English speakers.

I am specifically referring to the computer / technology industry. These people cannot speak English. I am so frustrated right now that if I could punch a few computer programmers or technicians and still be admitted to the bar, I would do it.

On the one hand, I do understand people's desire to have immigrants learn English - if only as a way of expressing their commitment to joining our community. However, having to stretch one's brain a little bit to speak with someone whose English is less than stellar doesn't really do one any harm - and might even do one some good if one learns a bit of patience and understanding along the way.

However, I cannot say the same for having to resolve computer issues. I am fairly certain that a stress-related heart attack is just around the corner if I have to deal with much more of this. I don't think that computer techs are due the same amount of patience, sympathy or empathy as non-English speaking immigrants. How hard could it possibly be to speak to a customer on a level they can understand? This would be like me, as an attorney, speaking to my clients like I would a colleague. Can the computer techs just not grasp the concept that all of us don't speak their language? After all, that is why *they* are the experts and I am coming to them for help. If I understood it all already, I wouldn't need them.

I had a problem with Windows not installing updates for three different items. I emailed Microsoft to get help with resolving the issues and have been working on it all morning and re-booting my computer multiple times after every step. If I wasn't in the library, I would scream.

I am sure that I am competent enough to handle this and that I can manage this even though the techs can't speak normal-person English enough to guide me through this without frustration. However, I really hate being forced to be competent against my will.

I now understand why the Geek Squad is a business model that works.

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