Immigrant families pay tribute to Alex Trebek for helping them learn English

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  perrie-halpern  •  2 weeks ago  •  20 comments

By:   Sakshi Venkatraman

Immigrant families pay tribute to Alex Trebek for helping them learn English
Immigrants say watching Alex Trebek on "Jeopardy!" helped them learn English.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


Fans of "Jeopardy!" all over the world mourned the death of longtime host Alex Trebek on Sunday, but one group shared a particularly special connection.

Immigrant families in the U.S. say watching Trebek, who was 80 and had hosted the quiz show for 37 years, each night helped them learn English.

Asmae Toumi arrived in the U.S. from Morocco when she was 9, not knowing a word of English, and she said watching American TV shows was a big part of learning the language. She credited "Clifford the Big Red Dog" for some of her progress, but she also spoke about the impact of game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy!"

Asmae Toumi.Courtesy Asmae Toumi

"I remember just sitting there understanding absolutely nothing," she said. "But I think the exposure to new words, just how things were expressed, just went such a long way."

When she first got to the U.S., Toumi found making friends, expressing herself and asking questions to be nerve-wracking. TV shows like "Jeopardy!" helped her navigate pronunciation, expressions and nuance.

Trebek — an immigrant himself, who was born in Canada and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1998 — was a staple in her family, and Toumi described his daily presence in her living room as "irreplaceable."

"He was one of the first people I 'met' in this country," she said. "I came here with my family. I went to a French school. He was sort of the first American man that I was exposed to. His kindness and his empathy and his sense of humor, those were all huge in my cultural understanding."

Just last week, during one of Trebek's last appearances on the program, "Jeopardy!" winner Burt Thakur, who is Indian, told the host about the impact he had on his own family growing up.

"I learned English because of you," Thakur said. "My grandfather who raised me ... I used to sit on his lap and watch you every day."

Sam Bautista, whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines, said she grew up watching her mom learn English from Trebek.

"Growing up, my mom was learning English as I was learning to speak as a human," Bautista said. "My mom always had this concern that she wasn't using the correct words or her English wasn't proper enough."

Beyond expanding her mom's vocabulary, she said, "Jeopardy!" taught her and her sister about fairness, competition and education. She got emotional as she reflected on her memories of Trebek.

"He was always the pinnacle of what success was," she said. "I don't know if that success directly correlates to education and intelligence, but my mom was very adamant that my sister and I took our education seriously. He was always fair. He was always right — obviously, he had the answers — but he was always fair. He never made you feel stupid for being incorrect, and I think that was huge for us."

Fans on Twitter also spoke about Trebek's impact on their families and their memories of watching the show with their loved ones.

"I think it's important to emphasize the impact that Alex Trebek had on immigrant families," one user tweeted. "I, too, watched @Jeopardy with my grandparents, who didn't speak English. Alex gave them something to look forward to every day in an otherwise unfamiliar world."

Others reflected on what Trebek meant to their parents who immigrated to the U.S. around the time he became the host of the show.

"For 30 years my immigrant mom has been watching #jeopardy and repeating the answers 2 seconds after Alex Trebek, in broken English, pretending she knew it all along, rolling her eyes at the contestants. She will be devastated. #riptrebek," another user wrote.


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igknorantzrulz
1  igknorantzrulz    2 weeks ago

Alex Trebek taught immigrants physics...cause with the wrong English, i'll spinn it like a yarn.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
2  Buzz of the Orient    2 weeks ago

He was a great Canadian.  In such a short time we lost a great Scot and a great Canadian.  Thankfully, however, at least we got one big win. 

 
 
 
MonsterMash
2.1  MonsterMash  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @2    2 weeks ago
He was a great Canadia
Trebek was also a Great American becomming a citizen of the United States in 1998.
 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
2.1.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  MonsterMash @2.1    2 weeks ago

I agree with you. However it's natural that I would focus on the fact that he was born, bred, grew up, was educated and had his first experience as a game show host in Canada.  Many Canadian stars eventually go to the USA where it's possible for them to become more widely noticed, famous and financially more successful.  

 
 
 
MonsterMash
2.1.2  MonsterMash  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @2.1.1    2 weeks ago
Many Canadian stars eventually go to the USA where it's possible for them to become more widely noticed, famous and financially more successful.  

 Canada-stepping stone. USA Land of opportunity jrSmiley_81_smiley_image.gif

While driving to Montreal back in 1974 I picked up a hitchhiker about 19-years-old. he didn't speak English and I didn't speak French so I tuned the radio to a French Rock station, he smiled and said "Merci"

About 30 miles from where I picked him up he started waving his hands motioning to the side of the road. I had no idea what he was saying so I took an exit pulling into a gas station asking the attendant to translate. He told me the guy wanted to get out at the exit 12 miles back LOL. I asked the attendant the exit number and than asked him to tell the hitchhiker I would drive him back to where he wanted to go. When we got to his destination I pulled over to let him out, he smiled and extended his hand for a handshake and than with a big smile handed me a joint in appreciation for the ride LOL  

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
2.1.3  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  MonsterMash @2.1.2    2 weeks ago

It has been for many - think back to Mary Pickford, and continue with the many TV and movie stars thereafter. I had an actress client who won the visa lottery and became a double for a famous American actress.  As well I knew some musicians personally such as Joni Mitchell and Neil Young.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
2.1.4  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  MonsterMash @2.1.2    2 weeks ago

I won't post in on NT but I'll tell you a story in a PN.

 
 
 
MonsterMash
2.1.5  MonsterMash  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @2.1.4    2 weeks ago

Anxiously waiting, this has got to be good.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
2.1.6  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  MonsterMash @2.1.5    2 weeks ago

It's there - check it out.

 
 
 
MonsterMash
2.1.7  MonsterMash  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @2.1.6    2 weeks ago

Yup, it was darn good story, thanks for sharing.

 
 
 
MsAubrey (aka Ahyoka)
3  MsAubrey (aka Ahyoka)    2 weeks ago

I remember one time, while working at Firestone, I was 16 and was talking with our office manager / accountant. Jeopardy was on in the background for the customers. I heard, "215/70R15 is the size of this." Not one person on that panel got it, but I instantly said, "What is a tire," then proceeded with my conversation with the office manager. The few customers laughed that I knew what it was and how appropriate it was for where we were and that the contestants were unable to answer. jrSmiley_86_smiley_image.gif  

 
 
 
MsAubrey (aka Ahyoka)
4  MsAubrey (aka Ahyoka)    2 weeks ago

I'm curious as to who his replacement on Jeopardy is going to be.

 
 
 
Sunshine
4.1  Sunshine  replied to  MsAubrey (aka Ahyoka) @4    2 weeks ago

That will be some big shoes to fill.

 
 
 
Dismayed Patriot
4.2  Dismayed Patriot  replied to  MsAubrey (aka Ahyoka) @4    2 weeks ago
I'm curious as to who his replacement on Jeopardy is going to be.

Hopefully it's Will Ferrell.

 
 
 
MsAubrey (aka Ahyoka)
4.2.1  MsAubrey (aka Ahyoka)  replied to  Dismayed Patriot @4.2    2 weeks ago

OMG! That would be AWESOME! But I believe that Trebek said that he would like to have a light-hearted female host with a good sense of humor... or something to that effect.

 
 
 
MsAubrey (aka Ahyoka)
4.2.2  MsAubrey (aka Ahyoka)  replied to  Dismayed Patriot @4.2    2 weeks ago

 
 
 
MonsterMash
4.2.3  MonsterMash  replied to  Dismayed Patriot @4.2    2 weeks ago
I'm curious as to who his replacement on Jeopardy is going to be.

If it's Ken Jennings I'll stop watching Jeopardy.

 
 
 
Dismayed Patriot
4.2.4  Dismayed Patriot  replied to  MsAubrey (aka Ahyoka) @4.2.1    2 weeks ago
Trebek said that he would like to have a light-hearted female host with a good sense of humor...

I could see perhaps Tina Fey in the job.

Or maybe Ellen DeGeneres.

Or they could keep it Canadian and go with Samantha Bee.

 
 
 
MonsterMash
4.2.5  MonsterMash  replied to  Dismayed Patriot @4.2.4    2 weeks ago

All bad choices

 
 
 
MsAubrey (aka Ahyoka)
4.2.6  MsAubrey (aka Ahyoka)  replied to  Dismayed Patriot @4.2.4    2 weeks ago

Sorry, but none of those women are right for that job. I cannot stand Samantha Bee. She is like nails on a chalk board.

 
 
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