There is nothing sensational about a Reality TV show where people are doing what they should do. People washing dishes or folding laundry or reading a book aloud would hardly get a pilot. You would have to superimpose upon it some kitschy drama interspersed with confusing vantage points, implied relational deviance, and some embarrassing extravagance. So we find out that the dishwasher has an ankle fetish and swears when he breaks a piece of china, the launderer failed beauty school and has melt-downs over tough stains, and the reader is a secret millionaire who has a hard time pronouncing the sound th.
I'm tired of hearing about illegal aliens: I would like to hear more about the legal ones. However, it is unlikely that I will unless I get to know them myself. After all, there is nothing sensational about a legal alien doing what he ought to do by coming to this country legally, becoming an industrious contribution to this country legally, and growing an outstanding business legally. What a boring story that would be, huh?
I recently came across a series of books called The Lingo Guide. On-the-job dictionaries full of industry relevant phrases, these books are designed to fit into a toolbox or pocket. On one side they read English-Spanish. Flip it over and you have Spanish-English.
The blue book is designed for construction workers, the green book for landscapers, and the black book for safety. Each book is full of thousands of trade-specific words and phrases such as:
How many faucets will there be in this house?
¿Cuántos grifos habrán en la casa?
We need to be careful not to hit the gas line when digging.
Debemos ser cuidadosos de no golpear la tubería de gas cuando estamos cavando.
We need to wear our hard hats.
Necesitamos utilizar nuestros cascos.
Or it can go the other way:
¿Puede realizar cortes?
Can you cut?
Debemos plantar este árbol justo ahí.
We need to plant this tree right here.
Necesitamos una clasa para CPR.
We need a training class for CPR.
Each phrase has a translation and pronunciation guide. If the site manager has a problem speaking Spanish or if the worker has a problem speaking English, each can point to the phrase or word he is trying to communicate. How clever is that?
What I find to be so impressive about these little books is that they achieve many things for both the Hispanic and the American that we Americans value. First, it aids the Hispanic worker in his ability to learn English. Secondly, it gives the Hispanic worker the power of the English language to insure he is not being taken advantage of and to enrich his level of responsibility. Thirdly, it solidifies the dignity of our Hispanic brother and sister by increasing his and her marketable value in our economy.
For the American business owner, he saves money by first insuring a legitimate medium for communication between site manager and worker (so much money and time is spent and wasted due to a lack of communication in project development and execution). Secondly, it helps to insure the safety and competence of his Hispanic workers, building a credible reputation for employer and employee alike. Thirdly, the employer contributes to the Americanization of his workers: they will eventually learn English! Enough English to do their jobs well anyways
As positive as all of that sounds, it is just too interest-specific and too boring to capture the attention of attention-deficit Americans. We are much too captivated by the Reality TV-drama of the antics of illegal aliens in the news and other media that we find no empathy to aid the cause of the legal alien by encouraging him and her during a very scary and unsure time for Hispanics. Some of us are so backward that we choose not to meet a legal alien for fear of coming in indirect contact with an illegal one. The Lingo Guide is one of many practical ways we can champion the cause of our legal, Hispanic brothers and sisters. By increasing communication, we become a people.
Check out If you have Hispanic neighbors working in the construction, landscape, or general safety industries, PURCHASE A COPY FOR THEM! If you have friends or neighbors who hire Hispanic workers in these industries, LET THEM KNOW THAT THIS TOOL EXISTS. Do you know of an ESL class (English-As-a-Second-Language) near you or of church groups or charities frequenting Mexico and South American countries for building-related mission trips or projects? LET THEM KNOW. This little act can do wonders to aid the Americanization of legal Hispanic immigrants. And don't we want that?