I teach English to New Mainers. Most of them are from cities in Africa.

I was happy to see Ralph C. Carmona’s opinion piece Monday about the Jan. 14 First Parish forum on immigration (“Maine Voices: Forum to spotlight crucial need to integrate Portland’s new arrivals”). This is a chance for immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers to share their ideas on making Maine a better place for all.

As I read the piece, I was sad when I saw how difficult the reading was. There were words like “immigrant capital buttresses economic growth” and “pontificating by pundits.” He talked about welcoming the “clarion call” on immigration.

I used my computer to get a grade level on Carmona’s column. It was 13.7 – college level. It had a “reading ease” score of 30.7 – “difficult.”

Many of my students are college graduates. They speak two or more languages. They work hard in my class. They know they need to learn English before they can help improve Maine’s economy.

These immigrants need English to have a voice at immigration meetings. They need it to find out when these meetings are taking place. No one learns a new language overnight, however.

What is the reading level of most people who read newspapers? Maybe Americans who attend immigration forums are college-level readers. Most immigrants are not.

Is the forum going to talk about immigrants? At immigrants? With them? I hope that Mr. Carmona and others will remember the “listening level” of the forum audience at First Parish Church, 425 Congress St., Portland, at 6 p.m.  Jan. 14.

(The grade level of this letter without the quotations is 6.1. The reading ease score is 68.4 – “standard.”)

Sally Connolly

Cape Elizabeth