In Richard Rodriguez piece "Aria" he tells the story of his childhood. He voices the struggles of learning a new primary language and the nuances that come along with speaking a new language in public.
Learning a new language can be extremely difficult. One of the main reasons is because when you have to speak that new language publicly people notice that it is not your first language. People notice that you do not know certain words, or they notice your accent, or maybe you just don't speak period. This is the daily struggle of immigrants in our country and it is a struggle that I am very familiar with.
My wife came from Brazil when she was 9. Just like Rodriguez she picked up the new language very quickly. Children have it pretty easy because they are forced to speak english in our school system and if they want to make friends and fit in they will learn the language as quick as possible. Children also have the mental capacity to learn the language at a faster rate. As an adult it is much harder to learn because most adults are working and don't have the time for school. Most foreign adults also have friends from their native country which keeps them from having conversations in their new language.
My Mother and Father in law came to the United States in their mid 30s and as soon as they got here they started working. They worked day and night and my wife stayed with family members so that they could work as much as possible. They made a life for themselves in the United States and they eventually did start to learn English. My mother In law went to CCRI to take english as a second language classes and she learned enough to get by. However once she got through the first couple of classes she never went back and because of that her English has not developed any further.
My Father In Law had a different story, he came ere and hated living in America. The culture change was uncomfortable for him, as well as the climate, and especially the food. It took him 13 years before he made any kind of effort to learn the language. He spoke primarily Portuguese with his friends and family and barely spoke with me. He just like Rodriguez father he didn't speak publicly and it was evident that he was embarrassed by his lack of fluency in the english language. So over the last 2 years he decided to start taking ESL classes and because of this his english has improved immensely. We now have a better relationship, his business is growing and he has accepted that he is now an American and will never go back to Brazil.