Learning English as a second language can be difficult for many people. My father was an Ecuadorian immigrant who came to the United States at the age of eighteen. Some of his friends were already here, but despite their support, he still needed to learn common phrases and conversation topics. These are four books I chose for different ways of understanding the English language. Whether you are a bilingual reader or not, these four books show a story of learning a language specifically English.
1. Love in Eng-lish by Maria E. Andreu
If you want to learn the hardships of learning English as a second language, the protagonist in this novel can show you.
Sixteen-year-old Ana moved from Argentina to New Jersey for her junior year of high school. She loves poetry and language, which is ironic since she is struggling to learn English. She does have her close friend Altagracia who is bilingual and can help translate.
When she encounters a cute American boy in her Math class named Harrison, and a Greek boy in her ESL class named Neo, she has trouble communicating her heart as things between them escalate. With Neo, she can talk about 80s movies and being in ESL. With Harrison, she can feel Americanized and part of the United States.
When her father questions whether she is trying to be too American, will she break the rules and follow her heart?
2. The Silence Between Us by Alison Gervais
Sign language is its own special language. When learning ‘English’ people who are deaf must learn the ability to communicate through their hands and various gestures. Focusing on the concept of language and the meaning behind it, this book is from the point of view of a deaf person. Sign language, like English, is another language that we can all learn to communicate with individuals.
Maya is a deaf teen that moves across the country to a hearing school. The adjustment is challenging and has many frustrating moments. However, surprisingly some of her classmates took it upon themselves to learn ASL, particularly Beau Watson.
With Maya searching for her future pursuits, romance isn’t in the cards. People deaf and hearing alike have asked her questions about her deaf identity. Maya wants to show them and the world that a disability isn’t a disadvantage.
3. Come On In edited by Adi Alsaid
This book is an Anthology focused on immigration. Many stories involve language barriers and learning the English language. English learning is something many immigrants acquire when living in America. Many of these stories will squeeze your heart, discuss personal memories, and the joy and opportunities of immigration.
4. Cool Salsa by Lori Marie Carlson
Ready for some awesome bilingual poems? This poetry book showcases many Latin/Hispanic voices. Some writers who have contributed to this are Ana Castillo, Gary Soto, and Martin Espada. These poems contain themes of life, love, prejudice, and personal memories of growing up as a Hispanic in America. The lyrical flow can be seen from different perspectives. You can read them in Spanish, and there’s an opportunity to discover a new flow in English. The English language can make one writing piece, sound completely different than in the original language. This is an opportunity to enjoy the different flows of words.
For more book recommendations go to Bookstr!