It was a normal work day for me like any other, when a Latino woman came into the branch and walked up to the teller beside my desk. At this time there was no one in line at the bank when the customer had entered, but of course as usually happens, the domino effect, in walks about five people behind her. Right away as I began to help my own customer I hear the teller beside me begin to enunciate her words and start speaking very loudly and slowly. The young Latino woman she was attempting to help did not evidently speak English very well, so as one can imagine communicating with her was very difficult, to the point where the teller was so frustrated she simply said to the woman, I CAN’T HELP YOU IF YOU DON’T SPEAK ENGLISH, THIS IS AMERICA AND OUR LANGUAGE IS ENGLISH. I was in complete shock at the tellers response and rudeness to this young lady.
I quickly apologized to the young Latino woman and asked her what she needed help with, in spanish. Apparently the teller beside me, had forgotten that I spoke Spanish and she was completely surprised when I had begun to assist the young lady and ended up with her walking out the door with a smile, whereas before she was very upset. She told me in Spanish why are people so rude when my English is not very good, I am just visiting the states to see some family, but I am trying to learn some English. She was laughing because she thought it was funny how the teller beside me had begun to speak very loudly and slow as if the young lady was deaf, not just misunderstanding.
Language is a beautiful thing. As was mentioned in this lesson, it allows us to express our ideas and communicate them freely. However, on the other hand as was demonstrated in this particular situation language can also cause a barrier and it can make it hard to communicate with others who do not speak the same language that we do. During these times, yes it may be difficult to get a message across, which is why it is nice to have gestures and other universal movements to assist us. Nelson Mandela once said, ” If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” This could not have been better stated, when we often use the common language between each other to communicate, it can create tension and sometimes misunderstandings, however, as was illustrated above by speaking the native language of an individual there is a sense of kinship that comes with that and almost an immediate bond because of the common ground.
Hamilton, R. (2014, January 1). Dictionary of Quotes. Retrieved October 29, 2014, from http://www.dictionary-quotes.com/nelson-mandela