Since the passage of immigration reform legislation in 1965, the influx of people from other countries into the United States has steadily increased. Many large communities have settled in New York City. Although the article discusses the various foods, cultures, locations, and the wonderful diversity these communities bring, some Americans (see comments) are concerned that immigrants who are unwilling to learn English or assimilate into the American culture, will create problems for Americans in the long run. Other Americans disagree and have experiences to substantiate their arguments.
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key.
Excerpt: Take the A Train to Little Guyana By Kirk Semple, The New York Times
“On an old building at 12 St. Marks Place, hovering above the sushi counters and tattoo parlors, is an inscription chiseled in the stone facade: Deutsch-Amerikanische Schützen Gesellschaft. It marks the location of the German-American Shooting Society clubhouse, long defunct… Little Germany is long gone — and other European enclaves that once defined immigrant life in New York City have also faded or disappeared altogether. But in their place, a welter of immigrant neighborhoods have formed, populated by newcomers from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America. As with earlier waves of immigrants, many of the newcomers fled economic hardship, armed conflict and other adversity, and have settled near their compatriots for convenience and mutual support, organically forming communities within the ethnic mosaic of the city. Because the foods and goods of home are such a central part of these communities, we have included places to find typical fare in each neighborhood, as well as retail spots that cater to the immigrant population…
It is an amazing sight, and a dramatic manifestation of the emergence of a thriving pan-Arab enclave in northern Bay Ridge. Bay Ridge’s population was the latest in a series of Arab enclaves that began with a settlement of mostly Syrians, Lebanese and Palestinians in Lower Manhattan in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
More than 74,000 Bangladeshi immigrants live in New York City, according to the latest figures from the Census Bureau, a 20 percent increase since 2009, making them the 11th-largest foreign-born population in the city. “I feel like I’m living in my own country,” said Mr. Lovlu, executive editor of Thikana, one of several Bengali newspapers published in the city. “You don’t have to learn English to live here. That’s a great thing!”
For generations, New York City knew one Chinatown and only one Chinatown: the world-famous neighborhood in Lower Manhattan. But today, if you ask an alert cabdriver to take you to Chinatown, he might respond, “Which one?” There are now more than 350,000 foreign-born Chinese spread across the five boroughs, coalescing into several Chinatowns and making them the city’s largest immigrant population after Dominicans, according to the latest American Community Survey, a continuing study by the Census Bureau.
There are now more than 137,000 Ecuadorean immigrants in the city, making them the sixth-largest immigrant population. In several census tracts straddling Roosevelt Avenue in Corona, at least a quarter of the population is of Ecuadorean descent, according to Census Bureau statistics.
The primacy of fufu in the Ghanaian diet is evident in the stock at Anokyekrom African and Caribbean Market (1152 Sheridan Avenue; 718-618-0717) in the Concourse Village section of the Bronx…The number of immigrants from Africa living in New York has soared over the past few decades. There are now more than 27,000 Ghanaians, the largest African immigrant group in the city, with most spread across several Bronx neighborhoods, and in pockets in Queens and Brooklyn…
Korean immigrants in the greater Flushing area first gained a foothold along Union Street. As their diaspora grew in numbers and wealth, the population spread east along the line of Northern Boulevard, the area’s main commercial corridor, into Bayside, Little Neck and then into Nassau County.
Sri Lankans, many fleeing the civil war in their country, began settling in Staten Island several decades ago; by some estimates, more than 5,000 people of Sri Lankan descent live in the borough. They are scattered throughout the island, though the commercial focus of the population is a short stretch of Victory Boulevard where it intersects with Cebra Street.”
Language Skills: Reading, writing, speaking and listening. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson) access to news article, and video.
Objective: Students will read the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through discussions, writing, and a debate.
Analyzing headings and photos
Directions: Ask students to read the title of the post and of the article. Then, have them examine the photos. Based on these sources, ask students to create a list of words and ideas that they think might be related to this article.
II. While Reading
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary or thesaurus for assistance. Students will find this vocabulary chart by Learnnc.org useful as a guide.
- An old building at 12 St. Marks Place, hovering above the sushi counters.
- There is an inscription chiseled in the stone facade.
- In their place, a welter of immigrant neighborhoods have formed.
- As with earlier waves of immigrants, many of the newcomers fled economic hardship, armed conflict and other adversity.
- Friday Prayer at the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge is so popular that the mosque often fills to capacity.
- It is an amazing sight, and a dramatic manifestation of the emergence of a thriving pan-Arab enclave in northern Bay Ridge.
- More than 74,000 Bangladeshi immigrants live in New York City, according to the latest figures from the Census Bureau.
- There are now more than 350,000 foreign-born Chinese spread across the five boroughs, coalescing into several Chinatowns.
- The number of immigrants from Africa living in New York has soared over the past few decades.
- Guyanese of East Asian descent are concentrated in large numbers in Richmond Hill and neighboring Ozone Park.
True / False/ NA
Directions: The following statements were taken from the article. If a statement is true, students write (T) if the information is not available, students write (NA). If a statement is false they write (F) and provide the correct answer from the article.
- According to the article, the German immigrant community dominated the East Village and the Lower East Side for much of the 17th century.
- Today, the immigrant population consists mainly of newcomers from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America.
- This shift was triggered by the passage of immigration reform legislation in 1965, which opened the door to greater numbers of non-Europeans.
- Many of the city’s immigrants will continue to live in New York City.
- For generations, New York City knew only one Chinatown the world-famous neighborhood in Staten Island.
- According to the article, Chinese are the largest immigrant population after Dominicans.
- There are now more than 100,000 Ghanaians, the largest African immigrant group in New York City.
- According to the latest American Community Survey figures, there are about 140,000 Guyanese immigrants living in New York City.
- Many Korean-owned businesses can be found in New York City and Korea.
- Koreatown of Manhattan, is located on 32nd Street between Broadway and Fifth Avenue.
Structure and Usage
Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3) from each group that contains the grammatical error.
- Since 1970, the number of foreign-born New Yorkers has more than doubled.
- About 32 percent of the city’s immigrant today came from Latin America.
- As with earlier waves of immigrants, many of the newcomers fled economic hardship.
- Mexicans may be the most subtle immigrants group in New York City.
- The reasons for this are complex and varied.
- There are now more than 186,000 Mexican immigrants in the city.
- Food bloggers are among the city’s most adventurous explorer.
- Sri Lankans began settling in Staten Island.
- They are scattered throughout the island.
III. Post Reading Tasks
Reading Comprehension Check
Directions: Have students use the WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.
Who or What is the article about?
Where does the action/event take place?
When does the action/event take place?
Why did the action/event occur?
How did the action/event occur?
Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. After, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the discussion topics.
- From the article, “I feel like I’m living in my own country,” said Mr. Lovlu, executive editor of Thikana, one of several Bengali newspapers published in the city.“ You don’t have to learn English to live here. That’s a great thing!” Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Provide reasons to support your answers.
- Many Americans feel that if immigrant communities do not make an effort to learn English, they are disrespecting American culture. Would you agree or disagree with this sentiment ? Provide reasons for your answers.
- It has been pointed out that there are Americans who live in other countries and often don’t speak the language of that country. What are your thoughts about this?
- Many American educators feel that it is necessary for new comers to the U.S. to learn English for survival purposes (e.g., being able to communicate during emergencies such as hospital visits, asking for help from police or fire agents, etc.) Do you support or refute this idea?
IV. Listening Activity
Video Clip: Ellis Island
Introduction: “The immigration point for millions of Americans now provides electronic access to all their records – a wealth of genealogical information.”
While Listening Tasks
Directions: Review the statements with students before the watching the video. As students listen to the video if a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they mark it F and provide the correct answer.
Between 1992 and 1954 approximately 12 million immigrants came through Ellis Island.
- Ellis Island is located in San Francisco.
- Ellis Island was the first federally controlled immigration system.
- Before Ellis Island there was another control system over immigration.
- At one time immigrants didn’t need anything but their fare to come to the U.S.
- Many Americans sent money to their relatives in other countries.
- In 1921 controls were put into place due to the large influx of immigrants arriving in the U.S.
- The controls were used to detect rich immigrants.
- If immigrants were illiterate, in poor health, or did not have enough money, they were deported back to their countries.
- In the 62 years of Ellis Island’s operation, all but 5 percent of immigrants were eventually admitted.
- The make-up of immigrants hasn’t changed over the years.
- 50 percent of Americans can trace a relative who came through Ellis Island.
- At the Ellis Island museum people can look up relatives who came through Ellis Island.
Topic question: Should immigrants be required to learn English?
Directions: Divide students into two teams for this debate. Both teams will use the article as their source of information.
Team A will list five reasons for immigrants having to learn English.
Team B will list five reasons against immigrants having to learn English.
Each team will have time to state their points of view, and the teacher decides which team made their points. For organization, have students use this great Pros and Cons Scale organizer from Freeology.
Mr.Lovlu, a Bangladeshi and executive editor of Thikana, a Bengali newspapers published in the city, made the following statement:
“I feel like I’m living in my own country, you don’t have to learn English to live here. That’s a great thing!”
In the comments section from this article some Americans were concerned by Mr. Lovlu’s statement and provided their reasons why. On the other hand, some Americans defended his statement. Have each group go through the comments and choose the ones that offer support for their side of the debate. There are over 120 comments and here are a few for students to begin working on.
“This is not a new issue… first-generation immigrants generally don’t learn English, or have difficulty doing so. But the kids always do. For example: My best friend is now pursuing a PHD. He was born here shortly after his parents immigrated from Ecuador. His parents spoke no English, and all my friend spoke was Spanish as a child… up until he started Kindergarten. With no formal English education, he picked up the language within weeks, just by being surrounded with a class full of English-speaking kids. And eventually, his parents learned the language as well (as adults, it took them longer).”-Jeremy W. -Brooklyn
“…Some of the most passionate and patriotic citizens I have come across are immigrants who truly appreciate the value of what this nation affords them. Where you see threatening communities I see an influx of ideas and imagination that is going to help this country remain as a beacon for enterprise…By the way, what exactly do you think these business owners taxes are paying for?”-Shawn-New York
“My husband is an immigrant and now speaks good English, which he uses at work and and with the friend he has made here. From time to time however, especially if he is having a bad day, it’s a real boon for him to be able to speak in one of his other two languages. It makes him feel less homesick and also like he is able to express his inner feelings, which are muted when speaking English.”-Didi-Philadelphia
“Which of you lauding the immigrants who refuse to assimilate want to teach a classroom of kids with 20-30 different languages where the parents refuse to learn english? And keep in mind, how these kids do on state and national tests would be part of your job evaluation.”- seeing with open eyes-usa
“Why is it OK for someone to brag about not learning English, when the social compact implicit and explicit in our immigration laws includes learning English? What does NYC spend on translation services every year?” Tina Trent-Florida
“I admire the detail and research that went into the formation of this article… But the comment by the Bengali newspaper editor greatly disturbed me about not learning English because everything in your neighborhood is conducted in the mother tongue…This great country gave you and your family another chance you would not have received in your home country. . .” -robin s.-nj