Fluency Forward Foundation: Advancing Language Fluency & Cultural Exchange

As a young immigrant from India, Caroline Praveen struggled in school and social interactions because she spoke with an Indian accent and did not always express her thoughts for fear of ridicule and not being taken seriously. It wasn’t until she met an adult Indian woman with an American accent that she began to grow confident, build relationships with other children, and start sharing her thoughts and ideas. Her first-hand experience of how a mentor can make a difference for immigrant children inspired Praveen to start the Fluency Forward Foundation.

“The Fluency Forward Foundation is dedicated to advancing language fluency and cultural exchange through innovative instruction, partnerships, discussion panels, and community engagement,” says Praveen. “For children and adults alike, language barriers can be beyond detrimental to their inclusion and respect. Our mission is to empower individuals with the skills and confidence to communicate effectively in English, thereby enriching personal and professional lives while promoting global harmony.”

The non-profit plans to organize bi-weekly online chats, providing a platform for individuals worldwide to casually improve their English skills. In the greater Pittsburgh region, they will conduct hands-on workshops and equip volunteers to host similar events in their areas. Diverse discussion panels with individuals of varying experiences will be established to engage the community and raise awareness. Their focus will also extend to teaching fluent speakers how to be more welcoming and inclusive to immigrants. Additionally, they will actively fundraise for charities dedicated to fluency development.

The Fluency Forward Foundation is not just focusing on children. Praveen realized how her parents also struggled when they moved to the United States. “My parents are undoubtedly the hardest-working individuals I know,” she says. “However, they experienced severe setbacks because their English was not fluent. In a professional environment, effective communication is the key to establishing respect. Stemming from a root of racism, it is impossible to earn leadership roles or promotions without being taken seriously. Moreover, my parents struggled to understand cultural differences in my new school system and keep up during meetings with my teachers.”

While the programming has not officially begun, Praveen has already seen what is possible with a little mentoring and understanding. While teaching a class to young students, Praveen noticed a boy from Yemen having trouble interacting with the other students. “He appeared to become visibly upset after being excluded, so I took the time to sit with and talk to him. I made sure to be patient and repeat everything he was telling me back to him, and after some time I realized that he was indeed very bright and outgoing. I advised him to keep his hope and keep trying to communicate, and I encouraged the other students to be understanding and inclusive. At the end of the day, he came up to me and thanked me ‘for really listening and helping’ because ‘not everyone here does the same.’ I am still constantly reminded of this boy, and his vote of gratitude motivates me to help other children even more.”

The Fluency Forward Foundation will strive to help participants improve their English, become more confident in their interactions, and create meaningful relationships, but the foundation itself can only do so much. The people themselves must want and work for the change. “I expect that it will require a great deal of effort to start to change the mindsets of people fluent in English from an early age and help them to be more culturally sensitive. This is not something that can be achieved in a few workshops or discussion panels; it will take continuous exposure and willingness from these people themselves to be open-minded.”

You can support the work of The Fluency Forward Foundation here: