Alex Trebek, Jeopardy
Alex Trebek, Jeopardy

Alex Trebek Played a Big Role in the Immigrant Journey

Let’s face it! Learning a new language is hard for anyone! It may be easier when we’re young and our minds are fresh and ready to receive new information. 

But, there are other methods we can use to learn a new skill, and watching TV is something that especially helps. 

This was the case with an immigrant from Iran, who only spoke Farsi when she moved to the USA. Elly Shariat told CNN she learned English by watching “Jeopardy!” the iconic TV show on NBC, hosted by the late Alex Trebek, who recently passed away after battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer for over two years.

“‘Jeopardy!’ was that wholesome show that you never had to be embarrassed to put on with your immigrant parents,” Shariat told CNN. “It brought our whole family so much closer together and the loss of Alex Trebek is going to leave a huge hole in our hearts and our home.”

While a series of early 2000’s studies revealed immigrants don’t tend to try hard at learning the language as soon as they migrate to the USA, a different picture has been painted over the last few decades. Latinos are doing learning English increasingly well.

Whether you’re an immigrant or the son or daughter of one, the truth is that using different mediums like music, media — and now the internet — has played a crucial role in our journey to becoming fluently bilingual. 

To give you an example, I was that teenager who arrived in Chicago knowing only how to say: “Hi, how are you? My name is Carolina.” I was lucky enough to make friends in High School who only spoke English and introduced me to Hip-Hop and R&B. Yes, that early 2000’s “Jenny from the Block” era – I was all over it. I learned how to rap a Kanye West song before I knew how to order food at a drive-thru window. 

Television was also a big part of my learning process. Before smartphones and a million apps to help you learn, I was recording music videos on a VCR, printing the lyrics, and then rewatching and repeating the songs until I learned how to pronounce, write, and understand the words. 

No matter how you learn to read or write English, learning a new language will always be a challenge – one you can overcome by enjoying the process. Be proud of yourself for trying and be proud of your accent, whatever it may be!



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