I got an email from a guy who had the following to say (posted with permission, details removed per instruction)
I am illiterate. Ok, not really. I'm talking about Hebrew. I can read it but I can barely understand it. Sure, I know tons of Hebrew words and I can pick through a piece in a sefer if I'm lucky. But how is it possible that after 14 years of yeshiva education I am not fluent in Hebrew? Forget about not being able to easily translate, I am dependent on English translations to learn! It is so easy to blame others so I will take some responsibilty myself. Of course I wasn't the best student or the best bachur. But I can't help blaming others too. How could no one have realized that I didn't know what was flying? They say that adults who are illiterate figure out all kinds of ways to fool others from shame. I managed that in yeshiva, I manage it now. Its not like I can't learn since there is so much in English. But my experience is awful. I feel like whatever learning I do is inauthentic and that there is a glass ceiling that I will never rise above. I can't imagein there aren't other people in this boat. Why did they expect us to figure out the code for anything of value in Jewish learning through osmosis? We aren't amoebas!It goes without saying that after more than a dozen years in an educational environment no one should be illiterate. In fact, its a scandal if its even one but I suspect its just a bit more than one. I don't have a lot of advice to give this person other than to transform his frustration and desire into action, to work hard and learn. The advice I gave him was to get himself a good dictionary and a Hebrew translation of a book he is already familiar with and try to work them together and to keep persisting.