Desire Trumps Language Barriers

Dr. Ambe speaking to parents and educators at the Regional CABE Conference in San Bernardino

By Dr. Nicoline Ambe

Language should never be a barrier to academic success. This is because language does not determine a person’s abilities, but it certainly can impede them. The fact that someone is a second language learner does not mean they cannot cognitively process information. However, their language can interfere with understanding information that is read or taught. This is the very reason why CABE exists — to ensure that those who speak a second language are not denied opportunities on the basis of language. CABE’s mission is to ensure that bilingual and biliterate learners are never left behind, and that they enjoy the same opportunities as other students. By partnering with schools, school districts and other good faith organizations, CABE has made significant in-roads in promoting bilingual education and access to educational equity for all.

That being said, the truth is that no matter how well intentioned CABE attempts are to reach all bilingual learners, it still may not be able to reach all bilingual families. For families that have no access to resources, “desire” will go a long way to counter and trump language barriers so that second language learners can gain access to opportunities that are available to others. The question is, “How does “desire” translate to “opportunity?”

family reaching
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Some of the most inspiring stories we’ve heard are the stories of immigrants who came to this country not being able to read and write English. These are the stories of parents who spend their days and nights earning minimum wage to take care of their children. Even though English was often not spoken in the home, these parents successfully raised children who became academic high achievers and went on to pursue successful careers. How did they do it? What did they do differently?


The question can be answered in one word – DESIRE. They had the desire to do better. They had the desire to excel and to see their children succeed.

Mother Helping Children With Homework At Table
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You see, desire trumps everything else. A strong desire to accomplish a specific outcome will motivate anyone to seek ways to overcome their obstacles to achieve what they desire. Desire comes from a deep feeling of wanting change and wanting to live a better life. Desire is the willingness to improve one’s situation and move from where one is to where one wants to be. People with a strong desire do what they need to do to reach their goals. They work harder. They do not make excuses. They put in extra time and effort because they want intentional change. They want to remove themselves from their current situation and ensure a better life for themselves and their families. Second language learners with a desire to succeed do not see their language as an obstacle. They do what it takes to succeed, so that they can achieve what they desire.

So, never let language be a barrier to your success. Instead, let your desire for success drive you to do what you have to do to reach your desired outcome.

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