In the beginning of 2022, Rhode Island College became a Hispanic Serving Institution, meaning 25% or more of the full time undergraduate students identify as Hispanic or Latinx. The Latinx community oftentimes faces many struggles, one of them being language barriers. Most of the people that identify as Hispanic or Latinx have direct ties to the Spanish language, and many of the students who are at RIC have it as their first language, including myself.
Language barriers not only affect the way you’re able to communicate with others and have meaningful connections, but also in class. Language is part of one’s identity and in many cases, like my own, one can face struggles because of the constant back and forth in between languages. Not even because of a lack of knowledge in actual words or fluidency but many times grammar, which can seem like any language’s nightmare. I can personally recall, and have heard from many other college students, especially during their freshman year, that they struggle with grammar and proper writing skills in order to succeed in those big essays – more structured ways of writing. Those struggles can get in the way of a student's confidence. Areas these struggles can affect are a student’s writing, work and ability to succeed during their academic experience.
Oftentimes, like in my case, as someone who received most of their education up until senior year of high school in Spanish, it can get tricky to ask for help and manage that lack of confidence in order to use the resources available. And at the same time, those resources aren’t necessarily in sight or part of a student’s knowledge, which was also my case. Once I found resources, it helped me both learn more about grammar and become confident in my writing ability. This allowed me to express myself academically, professionally and even emotionally through a piece of paper or word document.
Grammar isn’t only a challenge for people who use English as their second language, but also for native English speakers. Language is complicated, and understanding it can become tricky. The added difficulty of writing a research paper while also expressing one’s self in a different format can be challenging. This is why we turn to ask for help from the right people who have already developed the necessary skills in order to succeed in these areas. Sometimes it’s a friend, an institution or a resource given to us.
At RIC, we have Learning for Life and the Writing Center. These resources connect us with people that can help us with these struggles and more in order to ensure our academic success. Asking for help sometimes can be hard, but from experience, it allows us to grow tremendously and eventually do those things we need help with on our own.