Monday, June 18, 2007

My Small Thoughts on the English-Only Movement

Given the anti-immigrant hysteria sweeping the right wing, its no surprise the English-only canard is being played again - big time. Now at a certain level, I can understand why folks might want to declare English our national language. Fine, I have no real problem with that. My problem is the racists and bozos who want to declare war on Mexican Americans.

Its time for these dolts to get real and live with fact that lots of people haven't mastered English - particularly adults moving to the US for whom English isn't their primary language. Its really not a big deal to have ballots in Spanish, or health warnings in Vietnamese.

On the other hand, I do have a pet peeve in our schools. I want to say first that I think its fine to have public schools where the instruction is in another language (often Spanish) so long as that foreign language isn't also your primary language.

However, I strongly believe that children who have limited English skills should not be bundled off to classes taught in their native languages. Why? Because more often than not, these classes are taught by someone proficient in a particularly language, but not in the subject(s) being taught. Second, for someone to have real success in this country, you need to learn to speak English well.

The solution: English immersion. For the first six months to a year in American schools, these kids must be put in English immersion classes to master English first. Then they need to be mainstreamed into regular classes - as quickly as possible.

That's my small solution to a rather large problem. I'd be interested to hear other points of view.


Mentarch said...

Exactly! Immersion is the key.

Larry said...

The way Bush is selling America to China, we should learn Chinese.

LET'S TALK said...

All of this is a real heated subject, as I've found out in my last post What About The Immigration Bill?.

When I travel in certain areas in Georgia, I sometimes feel as if I'm in another country. I'm alright with that.

I guess I said that to say that if you are OK with the immigration bill as is, then you should also be ok with foreign language in schools... how else are these people to learn regardless too how proficient the teacher is in a particular subject.

I would much rather see them with an education than without one because a teacher was not proficient in their field or subject.

That's an everyday occurance in the Public School and mostly in the Black Schools.

Suzie-Q said...


That's probably not a bad idea to learn Chinese. I'm sure Bush knows Chinese! LOLMAO

Political Realm said...

We can make English the official language once Bush masters it.

CHUQ said...

Syria Did It! Oh sorry, they are being blamed for everything else, just thought I would help out.

OK we have that said what about South Louisiana, where they are taught in bastardized french. Do we take that away from them? Do we try and make English the only language in the schools. That was tried, failed!

I agree that they need to be well versed in the English language, and it will be a prob to be faced by our newest fearless leader.

Christopher said...

I'm a second generation American.

My family came to the USA from Italy in 1910 with no English skills. My grandmother and grandfather both told of being "paired" with an English speaking student when they started attending public school.

Within a year, my grandparents could speak English. By the end of the second year, they could speak and write English.

What the bilingual crowd forgets is, children are like sponges -- they can absorb new information quickly and effortlessly.

English is the global language of business as well as commercial aviation. If you move to the USA and spend your years in school being taught in Spanish, you can say good-bye to success later in life because you're as good as disabled.

It's interesting to me that the parents of kids from Asian nations suck as China, Korea and Japan, stress English as a second language. But Mexican parents -- at least those living in the USA, don't insist their kids learn English. It just makes no sense if you want your children to be successful.

TomCat said...

There is a lot of confusion no this subject. English is, and should be, our national language. In attempting to make English our "official" language, the extreme right is trying to forbid the use of other languages for everything from ballots to bus schedules. I see that as prejudicial. However I agree with Ron. I think that a child who enters school and speaks no English should spend all their time in English instruction, until they reach a level of proficiency that they can keep up with other class work.

Ron said...


You make an excellent point about Cajuns. All I can say is there should be exceptions to mainstreaming idea.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Funny thing is Americans speak a bastardised version of the language anyway.

Jess said...

I know you wrote this blog post a while ago, but I just have to say that I agree with you completely.

Children need to learn English well in order to do well in America. But for their parents—it's difficult. There's no need to fear someone who cannot even communicate with you well. You (not you you, but I'm speaking to any English Only advocates out there) may be frustrated that you can't get your point across—but they can't either, and as their language isn't the one out there being taught and used in the country they're currently living in—don't you think that they're frustrated as well? They probably feel like they've lost some dignity, trying to use a language as an adult, but sounding more like a child... I feel like people taking the risk of losing their dignity, going to a foreign nation, all for the sake of a better future—usually for their own children—have done such a noble thing and deserve our respect, not scorn.

It's like people promoting the English-only movement are so afraid that America's gonna turn into some Spanish or Chinese speaking nation... Isn't that ridiculous? Let's take California as an example. The first people there were American Indians. Then who? The Spaniards. And before California was a state, and a part of this nation, it belonged to Spain then Mexico—speaking Spanish! Yes, California is different now, since it IS part of American now—but still!—celebrate the history and diversity of it. Don't turn it into some plain white bread when it can be that AND corn tortillas and fried rice...

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