On the adults’ end, Rivas said, it’s not that they don’t want to learn English, but rather that classes don’t line up with their work schedules and family obligations. In a lot of cases, Rivas said, the adults know some English, but hesitate to use it in formal situations out of fear of being judged or misunderstood.
The discussions also showed a perception among Anglos that Latinos don’t value education or work promotions as much as Anglos. Rivas said that’s not the case. Rather, the issue is that Latino parents don’t understand the U.S. education system, having not grown up with it, and the language barrier can make it difficult to learn about it. For promotions, Latino workers would like to be promoted, but are often hesitant because of Latino cultural norms. Latino families, for example, value keeping the family together above personal success. That can lead younger Latinos to turn down promotions that could elevate their status above someone else in their family or necessitate a move.