Why should/shouldn't spoken English be mandatory?

rob333March 19, 2012

Jodi made a comment on the voter fraud in Colorado thread that got my wheels to turning:

"..Not every American CITIZEN eligible to vote speaks and/or reads English. So far, that's not a crime... though, the rumblings of mandatory English in Puerto Rico makes me think if the GOP takes over, it will be.

Unbeknown to parts of the GOP crowd, English speaking christian Caucasian is not the only type of human that exists."

It just seems like a practical matter. Not discrimanatory. I've always been of the mind, if my friend whose native language is Spanish can speak English, or my father's wife whose first language is Tagalog can speak English... anyone can do it and should if they intend to live here. And if you visit places, e.g. France, natives rather expect you to at least try to speak their language. So why shouldn't those who plan to stay for any length of time, e.g. past three years, learn English? Is this really another one of my GOP thoughts? Is it a conservative view as Jodi commented? Learn something new every day-truly interesting to me. So what is the liberal point of view on the matter?

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david52 Zone 6

Should the Navajo have to learn English to vote?

There are Spanish-speaking settlements dating from the 1600's all along the Rio Grande River, all the way into Colorado - should they be forced to speak English?

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 1:41PM
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kingturtle(Zone 7 GA)

The people who fought for American independence weren't ALL English speakers. The people who became US citizens weren't all English speakers. Enclaves of non-English speakers in the US have in the past included Gaelic speakers, French speakers, German, Italian, etc.

If we are talking specifically about Puerto Rico, perhaps we should remember that they didn't choose to become a US Territory. Puerto Rico was a Spanish colony that fought long and hard for their independence before being invaded and conquered by the US in the Spanish American War.

Perhaps the question should be if the US is going to conquer islands with distinct cultures and languages what responsibility do WE have to give them a road to either autonomy or statehood that respects their long culture and heritage.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 1:56PM
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rob333

I'm not saying they should be "assimilated" and resign their heritage. I'm asking if it doesn't make sense for day-to-day busines interaction purposes?

KT, I'm talking about those who immigrate here, not conquered folks. And my Spanish speaking friend is Puerto Rican. She does it because she wants to.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 2:16PM
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jodik_gw

A HUGE proportion of settlers to these shores were not English speaking Brits, you know... and as the "melting pot" of the world, one would expect that many nationalities and races would be represented, not all English speaking.

It's a lot easier to print signs, documents and paperwork in a few main languages than it is to make the whole nation speak English.

As for Puerto Rico... thank you, KT. If anything, Spanish should be the mandatory language, considering the history. And before Spaniards, I believe the natives were the Taino Indians.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 2:18PM
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nancy_in_venice_ca Sunset 24 z10

The Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters offers multilingual services in English, Chinese (Mandarin?), Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Armenian, Khmer, and Russian.

I don't see a problem given the sizable communities that the languages represent. I'm in favor of maximum inclusion.

Some residents of Beverly Hills did raise a stink a few years ago when city ballots were offered in Farsi.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 2:20PM
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nancy_in_venice_ca Sunset 24 z10

Forgot to mention, in the above communities there is a large enough population of native speakers that commerce and medical services can be conducted in those languages.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 2:24PM
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jillinnj

What you're talking about is forcing non-English speaking people to speak English if they want to function in our society.

I look at it from the opposite point of view. Why should we force someone to learn English to make our lives easier?

I think that this is often made into a bigger issue than it needs to be. When people migrate here, the younger generation does learn English. Because they learn it in school, their friends speak it, etc. But, for the older generation it's often a difficult task. Learning English is not easy, especially for someone that is not adept in languages, and especially for that person later in life.

We are (or are supposed to be) a melting pot. Let's not force them to do something because it makes it easier for us.

I've never been to France, but lots of people in my family have, and they say that what the French hate is when you try to speak their language and butcher it. They prefer if you just don't try :-) I'm not speaking from experience, just relaying my family's experience.

By the way, rob, I got that you were not talking about Puerto Rico, but more generally about the language spoken here.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 2:33PM
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rob333

"learn English to make our lives easier"

Ok, that begs the question. Why wouldn't it make their lives easier? I cannot possible learn 30 different languages. I'd love to, but it's not feasible.

Just trying to get down to an understanding. My mind is open, but I am just not seeing it as forcing or anything beyond an expectation that cannot be met any other way. I'm trying my hardest, I promise!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 2:42PM
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chase_gw

Spanish is already a semi official language in the States and with the changing demographics will only continue to grow.

No amount of push back is going to change that so it would behoove the States to figure out how to embrace the diversity of language in positive ways while still keeping English as the predominant official language.

It can be done but not through suppression and anti Spanish rhetoric. That will simply serve to polarize the issue and in time, and not much time, the majority will have it's say.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 2:47PM
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rob333

"embrace the diversity of language in positive ways"

I belive they already do. I can't think of one place that is in an essential service wherein I don't see those signs that say, "I need an interpreter in _________________". Is that not enough? One can also a card that says the same thing. What do you think would be better? How does Canada handle it? I know they speak English and French, but for what other language do you accommodate? I'm interested in a model is why I am asking.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 3:03PM
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esh_ga

My opinion: in the United States, English is the primary language and business should be conducted in English.

In Puerto Rico, I am not so sure given the way it came about. I don't know the history.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 3:04PM
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Circus Peanut

"learn English to make our lives easier"
Ok, that begs the question. Why wouldn't it make their lives easier?

I think it absolutely would make "their" lives easier. But "they" are often folks who are here as a matter of political suffering and/or not as a voluntary or happy choice. If you're someone whose family was just murdered in front of you and you manage to flee to the US, losing everything you ever worked for or owned, it might understandably be a while before you are really ready for a new 'adventure' in language. Just as one example.

Then there are other examples, such as young girls who are brought here in slavery for prostitution, whose handlers will do everything they can to prevent them from learning English and becoming more sovereign.

I think English is very much a goal for younger denizens of these communities, and the advent of the internet has vastly improved everyone's access to free and fun learning materials. Facebook has probably done more to encourage English learning than any legislation ever could.

It's a lot harder to learn a new language as an adult. In the meantime, that's why virtually every local government in the States has numerous resources on offer in the way of translation aid (medical, legal, and for voting if the person's a citizen). I don't see how requiring it (and how on earth would you enforce such a law?) would change the basic facts of age & immigration.

To my way of thinking, any candidate worth their salt will make an effort to include any such communities in their jurisdiction under the umbrella of their campaign. It always amazes me, living in Maine (which is the whitest state in the union) how little our Somali refugee communities are taken into account at voting time. They often become "they" rather than "us" in the campaign media.

(PS: for some reason this brings to mind that Simpsons episode where the Indian guy who runs the 7-11 sighs to himself as he's sweeping his broom and says "In my country I was a doctor..")

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 3:16PM
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jodik_gw

If English remains the official language, Robin, why would you think you'd be forced to learn 30 other languages? How many other languages do you come across on a daily basis that you are forced to interact with?

I've only ever needed English... and a little Spanish... which, by the way, is MUCH easier to learn than English. I can even read Spanish fluently, though I'm not certain of the meaning of every word. Each letter in the Spanish language has only ONE pronunciation... not so with English.

I can't see how anyone would be required to learn every language spoken within this nation... unless their specific job entailed it... and I don't think many do. Translators are available.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 3:16PM
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rob333

Jodi,

I'll ask your question back to you--How do those who are non-English speaking supposed to interact with their community??? How can they do it unless everyone else speaks Spanish, for instance? Yes, at work, I can simply ring up the interpreter. Not so for everyone, but even in podunk Nashville, it happens. But not at my home. The Pashtun speaking group of folks whom I keep running into speak English, so luckily, I can talk with them. But I don't know their language. If they hadn't learned English, I'd be out of luck. Frankly, so would they. How can they particpate in any meaningful way if they don't speak the language? Gain any say-so in affairs of their very own home? I don't get it. I'm not even being Devil's Advocate. These are real questions.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 3:32PM
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jodik_gw

If Robin would have trouble learning 30 new languages, what makes her think it would be easy for everyone, or anyone, to learn English, which is THE most confusing language there is to learn! English has multiple meanings and spellings for the same words, tons of changing slang, various accents depending on locale... it's the trickiest language to learn!

What's wrong with leaving things as they are, and allowing the younger generations to assimilate through school and peer groups, television, etc... while allowing for written ballots in several languages for the first generation of immigrants?

Logically, it's easier to let the elder generation decide for themselves, and allow their children who learn English in school to help with necessary translations.

Canada doesn't seem to be having issues with English and French... that I'm aware of... so why should there be a big to do be made over every language that doesn't make "us" comfortable. The world isn't all about "me". It contains many peoples, just as worthy and important, who don't speak the same language I do. So what?

If it hasn't been a personally frustrating issue in the past, why would it suddenly become one?

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 3:36PM
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rob333

I qualified it above:

"...my friend whose native language is Spanish can speak English, or my father's wife whose first language is Tagalog can speak English... anyone can do it and should if they intend to live here..."

I work with folks from all around the world. They speak several languages. But if they want to live here or work here for long all of these people bothered to learn it. Why shouldn't everyone? If I moved to Italy, I'd sure as heck learn Italian before or shortly after getting there, any way I could.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 3:39PM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

Just a footnote here: Isn't English the official language in Puerto Rico? I thought I heard someone say that on a TV talk show in the past couple days.

Making English mandatory? Why bother? It is a problem that quickly cures itself. For immigrants, the older generation (Mom, Dad, grandparents) have trouble learning the new language. The kids (2nd generation) have no more trouble learning English than your kid and mine did.

It's really that simple--which is why I don't particularly worry about this subject.

Kate

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 3:54PM
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kingturtle(Zone 7 GA)

Rob, I thought you were referring to Puerto Rico which came up recently in a Santorum interview about statehood.

My view is we haven't had English as an official language in the US - yet immigrants have learned English by the second generation just as a matter of assimilation. I don't see a reason to make something a law that is already widely practiced here in the US. If the first generation want to speak Spanish or whatever, they are following in the same tradition as most of our founding European immigrant ancestors.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 5:09PM
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jillinnj

Ok, that begs the question. Why wouldn't it make their lives easier?

Yes, I believe it would absolutely make their lives easier. But I don't believe we force someone to do something because we think it would make their lives easier.

The younger generation does learn English, and they are often the interpreter for their elders. So, in my view, it's not that big a deal. Yes, it can be frustrating to run into someone you want/need to have a conversation with that does not speak English and you don't speak their language. But, again, not reason to force them to learn English.

Also, let's not forget that some of these elders are uneducated and learning English just might be impossible or near impossible for them.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 5:24PM
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chase_gw

In Canada we have two equal official languages, French and English. The concept of two founding nations, the French and the English, is fundamental to the tapestry that is Canada.

The issue of immigrant Canadians is totally different. We have a very large Chinese, Pakistani and Indian immigrant population. It is common to have businesses and the government offer services in languages that fit a given community....no biggie.

I agree with others the first generation will often find it hard to learn a new language especially if the community thy live in is heavily populated with people of the same background.

The second generation is a different thing all together, they learn English quickly and often act as interpreters for their parents and grandparents. It has been that way since the first boats landed and it works out just fine.

The Spanish element in the States is an entirely different dynamic. Quite like the French in Canada, they cherish their background and are proud of their long and rich history and their contribution to creating the US of A.

The Hispanic community is part of the social and historical fabric of the States. Some day I believe Spanish will be declared the second official language of the US.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 5:42PM
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inkognito

Hey why not, if you can't speak the adapted English spoken by y'all rack that up with skin colour and religion for a full set.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 5:46PM
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krycek1984(6a/Cleveland)

I don't know why there's even a debate. If people want to live here, they should learn to speak English. I don't think that's a difficult concept at all.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 5:59PM
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inkognito

Krycek, are you taking time off from your studies to go for Simpleton of the Year ?

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 6:15PM
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dockside_gw

I agree with Krycek and think your statement, ink, is insulting.

My paternal grandparents were German immigrants who homesteaded land in Nebraska. My father, who was born here, didn't speak English until he went to school. His mother never did learn to speak English so I never got to know her. But, (except for my grandmother) everyone learned to speak English. My maternal grandparents were Swedish who came here, as adults, from Sweden. They learned the language.

I actually thought that, in order to become a U.S. citizen, you had to pass tests about U.S. civics, history, etc. Are these tests given in various languages? I feel very strongly that, if one wants to become a U.S. citizen, they need to speak English. That is how business is conducted, that is how one interacts in the larger culture. People can retain (and shoud, IMO) their first language and cultural ties, but, to be a citizen, they need to be able to integrate into the U.S. culture. That's the way it was done 100 years ago, I don't see why it should be any different today.

On another note, my dad spoke German fluently and my mother Swedish, but I never learned either language, as they felt they wanted me to be a "true American" and didn't teach me those languages. To my (and their) lasting regret.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 6:45PM
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patriciae_gw(07)

I wonder what you plan to do to people who dont or cant learn English..shoot them-send them home-a problem if they were born here.

Like voting fraud this is not a problem that requires more government-I am constantly flummoxed by the idea that the GOP is for small government.

Krycek-since English is not our national language why should people HAVE to learn it?

Europeans often learn several languages as a matter of course but they start young. I once was fairly fluent in high school Spanish but never having the least need for it, I lost it all.

Today I was in a store that sold "European food" which turned out to be mostly Ukranian. It was really a lot of fun to look at packages of food trying to figure out what it was since there is no connection to English. Why make the world more boring?

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 6:45PM
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inkognito

"They learned THE language." I added the emphasis but is this what you mean.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 6:50PM
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maddie_athome

English is the dominant language in the US. Fine difference there.

That said, what's the fuss? There are many countries around the world with more than one official language, Canada, Belgium, Luxembourg to name a few, tiny Switzerland has 4 official languages, so one could turn this around and ask you "what? only 1 language? you lazies!" ;)

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 7:29PM
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frank_il

I also agree with Krycek and believe someone is going for "D-bag of the year" award. Guess what, you win.
Most people do have to know English before they become citizens. The only people who are exempt are older people who have lived here a long time.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 8:16PM
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jmc01

Conducting business in a language other than English while in the US can be tricky but it's definitely not impossible. I did it today with a Spanish speaking man, using my 5th and 6th grade Spanish. if one wants to conduct business, they will.

I do not support making spoken English mandatory. I would, however, mandate second language classes in all schools from K-12.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 8:19PM
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pnbrown

"if my friend whose native language is Spanish can speak English, or my father's wife whose first language is Tagalog can speak English... anyone can do it"

An incorrect conclusion based on some uneducated anecdotal observation. "anyone" covers a lot of people. By the reasoning, any of us could move to China and eventually become functional in one of the languages spoken there. Unlikely that even 1 out of 100 people at random could do that, for example. For the average adult human, anywhere, becoming functional in a second language isn't a realistic expectation. Semi-functional after some years of true immersion is more average and realistic.

That is what is really at discussion in these kinds of debates. Many, if not most adult immigrants to any country are able to avoid full immersion and thus most avoid the chance to become even partially functional in the lingua franca. It's only natural, and easier and more comfortable to congregate with one's linguistic brethren wherever one is, and so that's what immigrants do.

Making it 'mandatory' for everyone to speak any particular language regardless of whether it is their mother tongue is like passing a law that the sky is now some color instead of blue because we say so.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 8:47PM
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labrea_gw

This is a cyclical nauseating post with the same cylical nauseating crap.
Historically the US has had large immigrant groups that dominated particular areas.
In German speaking areas & there were many of them town meetings & business meetings were often conducted in the most commonly spoken language German. Most of those people assimilated over they years & their children learned the US language or variations on it.
Thousands of Germans flooded Texas and in their enclaves German was the predominant language.
in Fredrickburg Texas locals were adamant about not speaking English.'
Gee when you've been through this topic so may times all the material is just there to fling at the Gee it's a no brainer crowd.

The US has no official language just a dominant group that speaks English.
For my convenience I wish people learned to speak English but why should my convenience dictate anything.
The blocks in this picture once sported signs in Hebrew & Yiddish they have given way to Chinese block after block after block in Chinese. There used to be a local ordinance that demanded the signs also say what they were in English.
You want to do business learn mandarin or Cantonese.

Once upon a time Cantonese was the dominant language in New York's Chinatown now it Mandarin as wave after wave of immigrants move into the already overcrowded impoverished area also in Flushing & parts of Brooklyn.
Many of the language classes at Transfiguration Catholic school language classes are classes in Mandarin.

Allen Street äºÂå«è¡Â
Baxter Street 巴士ç¹衠BÃÂâÂÂshìtè Ji"
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Broome Street å¸ÂéÂÂè¡Â
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Delancey Street å°è­西è¡Â
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Elizabeth Street ä¼Âå©èÂÂç½è¡Â
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Madison Street 麥å°éÂÂè¡Â
Market Street å¸Âå ´è¡Â
Mosco...

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 11:23PM
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labrea_gw

Oops all the Chinese characters didn't carry over.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 11:29PM
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mrskjun(9)

I agree with krycek as well. I would also like to see a second language taught in schools from kindergarten on. Children are able to learn a second language far easier than adults. Many countries teach more than one language.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 7:50AM
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chase_gw

If I moved to India I would likely move into an English neighborhood and seek out English speaking service providers. So I understand how an immigrant must feel.

The chances of me becoming fluent in the predominate native language is slim to none. Most certainly I would speak in English both in and out of my home.

Anyone in the States that isn't teaching their kids Spanish is missing a great opportunity for them when they are employable.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 8:05AM
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rob333

I think I have come to a full understanding. I think how the US currently does it is fine. We don't need an "official" language. I wasn't asking that legislation be passed, incidentally. I think we should keep English as the unoffical official language and it generally takes care of itself.

Second languages are taught in schools, so I don't understand what some of you are saying. In high school I took predominantly French, and still have French speaking friends, but also Latin (which certainly has helped more with my university studies in legal areas, and working in the medical arena). Then, it became a requirement for two full years of a "foreign" language to graduate here. Don't you have that? My son learned French in preschool and had five years of Spanish (Mexico's version,much like American English. Yes there are distinctions :) during elementary. I'm surprised to hear it's not a requirement other places. If, indeed, this is true.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 8:55AM
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Circus Peanut

rob,

the languages have been cut in many districts due to budgetary restrictions. They are usually the first to go after art.

Studies show that the younger, the better, for second language acquisition. Most other countries who mandate the languages start kids off in 4th or 5th grade -- waiting until high school does Americans a great disservice.

Here is a link that might be useful: Smarter?

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 10:16AM
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Circus Peanut

PS: Interesting results of a national survey on teaching of foreign languages in American schools. (Remember that many school systems have had their budgets drastically reduced since that date.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Foreign language education in the United States: Results of a 2008 National Survey

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 10:21AM
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david52 Zone 6

As we've previously discussed, being bilingual is a huge advantage in the current job market, and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

That works two ways, of course - recent immigrants have a huge advantage if they speak English as well as their own language, and for anglophone Americans, speaking a different language opens up all kinds of possibilities - My oldest daughter is fluent in French, Spanish, and English, and she has never spent more than a couple of weeks looking for a job - anything from recruiting nurses (nurses from Haiti and South America) to personnel management in a large resort hotel (the lower-echelon staff are all Spanish speaking) and her current job is selling real estate to wealthy foreigners.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 10:53AM
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chase_gw

In Ontario French is mandatory starting in Grade 1 for Separate schools and, I believe, Grade 4 for Public schools and is taught every day. A student must also have at least 1 year of high school French to graduate.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 11:10AM
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marshallz10(z9-10 CA)

Finally, some sanity on this matter. Thanks specifically to that old polygot, Joe, for "bringing it home" as only a long time NYC resident can.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 11:38AM
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jodik_gw

Generally, a person speaks the language that's prevalent within the community they live. It's not hard to grasp. There are many different areas within each city, as Joe illustrates, where different languages are spoken and business conducted in those languages with no problems, at all. Why make it a problem?

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 11:56AM
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rob333

This was a fact finding mission. Purely.

I didn't see it as partisan as your original statement sounded Jodi. And after some answers, it looks like it isn't divided. It seems like most everyone thinks it takes care of itself without mandating an official language. There aren't sides to this issue, but I was truly willing to find out. I didn't before, and now I really don't see it as "English speaking christian Caucasian" trying to do anything. Please let me know when they do. I think the antithesis of this would be trying to mandate that everyone learn Spanish and Spanish only, for instance--thereby catering to one group, while disenfranchising the other groups. That could polarize the US. Yet, it hasn't happened. And won't. So it's a non-issue. But that's just my take on it now that we've hit on all sides.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 12:12PM
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woodnymph2_gw

I don't know why (apart from budget reasons) we should not be teaching kids Spanish beginning in grade 4, extending through grade 7. Considering the growing number of Hispanics in this nation, it just seems common sense, in terms of future job seekers, etc. I was lucky enough to have 3 years of Spanish in my public school in Atlanta, GA. But perhaps it had something to do with the then free travel back and forth from Cuba, as it was before Fidel Castro took over.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 12:46PM
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jillinnj

It was clear to me that robin was just looking for the other side of the issue so she could make an informed decision.

However, Robin, while most here agree there is no need to make English the official language and force everyone to learn it, if you read the post, there are a few that think we should. In my opinion, they don't usually consider others' opinions. And, if you match their politics up with their other posts, you can see why some might assume you weren't really asking for the other side. JMHO.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 1:07PM
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Circus Peanut

It's a very interesting question, Rob, and I'm glad you asked it. I lived in CA once upon a time, where the issue was more immediate to a larger percentage of the population, so I don't ever mind reading the latest views on it here.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 1:14PM
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pnbrown

Living anywhere in the US while being nonfunctional in english is a significant handicap, just as living anywhere in Mexico without being functional in spanish is a handicap. It isn't possible to regulate a handicap.

Perhaps not being handicapped should be mandatory? What are we talking about here, making it punishable to speak a language other than english within the US? Punishable to fail to speak english on demand? What about native english speakers that have brain injuries and can't speak intelligibly? Probably would need a dispensation for them. An allowance for deaf people who only sign, I guess.

How about the fact that there are native english speakers who have great difficulty understanding other native english speakers? There are dialectic pockets in the english speaking world where some of the speakers are close to being mutually-unintelligible with other speakers. Speakers of SAE frequently have trouble understanding some of the more remote speakers of southern and various mountain dialects. So we have to pick a dialect to make obligatory first of all, upon which some native speakers of english here in america would be law-breakers every time they spoke.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 3:51PM
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krycek1984(6a/Cleveland)

As some have pointed out, I think it's entirely reasonable to expect US citizens, regardless of where they came from, to have at least a working knowledge of English. They don't have to be completely fluent, or become poets. Just a working knowledge so they can conduct business easily and integrate into our society.

Just because I support English as an official language doesn't mean I am prejudiced against those with different skin tones (as ink seems to think) or cultures. There is absolutely nothing wrong with an immigrant living in an area with like-minded and similar people who speak their same mother tongue. Just because English is an official language does not mean anyone wants to force people to not use their native tongue. It doesn't even mean that people want to force these individuals to always use English. It just means that people believe English should be a universal requirement and expectation of citizenship so that a person can conduct business and daily activities as a normal member of society.

I cannot say with certainty, but I am sure that the French people would prefer their immigrants to learn and speak French, Russians would prefer their immigrants to learn and speak Russian, etc. English is an integral part of America's culture and heritage and it is ridiculous that we would NOT want immigrants to share in our culture and heritage!!!! No one is forcing anyone to live in the US, after all. If you have no desire to even learn a little English, you don't have to live here.

I definitely support learning second languages in schools from a very young age - learning new languages has shown to be a great investment in a child's development. That doesn't mean that I should HAVE to learn to speak Spanish in order to advance myself. It's convenient to speak Spanish for an American; it shouldn't be a requirement.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 6:21PM
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pnbrown

So what you are saying is that SAE should be the official language; speakers of other english dialects should be officially marginalized.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 6:44PM
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elvis

Why not be like most other countries? If you don't speak the language commonly used throughout the country, i.e., Spanish in Mexico, French in France, etc., that's fine. Just don't be surprised if you have trouble communicating. And don't expect others who do speak the commonly used language to accomodate you. Done. If you want something, learn the language.

My grandparents managed to learn English when they came over.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 8:58PM
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jodik_gw

I think kids should be taught as much as they want to learn beginning as soon as they show an interest. The younger, it seems, the easier it is for kids to pick up things like languages, computers and other technology, anything...

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 9:00PM
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jillinnj

English is an integral part of America's culture and heritage and it is ridiculous that we would NOT want immigrants to share in our culture and heritage!!!!

Who said we don't want them to share in our culture?

We just don't want to FORCE them to learn English if they choose not to or are unable to.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 9:26PM
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dicot

Thousands gather to protest adult education cuts in downtown Los Angeles

Feb. 9, 2012 : By Ryan Fonseca with Paige Osburn

Members of the public joined United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) in a massive protest Thursday, responding to the L.A. Unified School District board's proposed cuts to adult education funding. Protesters claim the cuts will virtually eliminate programs across Southern California.

"They're really slamming the door on people's dreams," said Matthew Kogan, an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher at Evans Community Adult School and chair of the Adult Education Committee for UTLA.

"These people aspire to better jobs, they aspire to be part of their children's education. It really means a lot to them," Kogan said. "When I say that [John] Deasy and Monica [Garcia] don't understand, I really mean it."

Over 2,000 protesters showed up on the corner of 3rd Street and Beaudry Avenue, and the crowd quickly took over the whole road up to Boylston Street. Members held up signs and chanted slogans like "Si Se Puede!"

Dozens of LAPD officers and cars scrambled to deal with traffic, rerouting masses of cars away from 3rd Street. Kogan said that rally leaders had attempted to warn the LAPD about the crowd, but never heard back.

"They should have returned our calls," said Kogan. "We knew it would be a very big rally."

Adult education programs - including high school completion programs, ESL classes and career preparatory courses - serve about 350,000 students across Los Angeles.

The latest budget proposal presented to the LAUSD board in January included $0 for the $120 million Division of Adult and Career Education (DACE).

Kogan and others at the UTLA say they have gathered over 200,000 signatures for a petition against the proposed cuts.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 10:01PM
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elvis

Who decided to make those cuts? Sounds terrible.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 10:15PM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

Let's see--if you want to major in college in a foreign language, you will need to spend FOUR YEARS taking foreign language courses and probably will still not be comfortable conversing in that language unless you supplement your studies with a summer or two in a country that speaks that language as its predominant language.

And some of you want older Mom and Dad and grandparents to pick a foreign language up on their own in a few months. How ridiculous can you get?

Kate

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 9:32AM
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marshallz10(z9-10 CA)

One friend continues to be an ESL instructor as a gift to a system that allowed him to immigrate, knowing German and very little English. He is now a fluent English-speaking and Spanish-speaking facilities manager for the Institute and a general contractor in partnership with a naturalized America born in Mexico. Took him a couple of years to get fluent by taking ESL classes and marrying a first-generation Hispanic nurse. A great story and example of successful integration of cultures. His wife has learned German and takes vacations with the kids in Germany where the kids have become fluent in German to go with fluency in Spanish, English and well along in French.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 9:45AM
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david52 Zone 6

In Holland, it is customary to start teaching foreign languages in elementary school - English, German, and French - because, as a country that depends on trade, it is in their best interests to do so.

There is an interesting parallel in Utah, where quite a few successful companies that depend on foreign trade are staffed with returning Mormon missionaries, now fluent in assorted languages. Romney is fluent in French, Huntsman in Mandarin, etc.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 10:04AM
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kingturtle(Zone 7 GA)

I was struck by the fact that even the panhandlers in Europe are multi-lingual. I was accosted by one guy who kept trying different pitches on me (Dutch, German, French, Spanish) as I tried to walk by and feigned incomprehension when he yelled "I know you understand English you a-hole American".

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 10:34AM
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demifloyd(8)

as I tried to walk by and feigned incomprehension when he yelled "I know you understand English you a-hole American".

*

ROTF. DH and I have had hustlers approach us trying different languages, as well.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 10:46AM
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nancy_in_venice_ca Sunset 24 z10

walk by and feigned incomprehension

Non riesco a capire should cover it.

Works even better in Italy.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 10:52AM
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demifloyd(8)

"Basta!" works for me.

Thanks for one more option, Nancy.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 11:01AM
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rob333

Kate?

Who said learn a language in a couple of months?

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 11:50AM
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patriciae_gw(07)

We had a program in a local elementary school where they paired kids as 'language buddies' with one a native Spanish speaker and one English so they could help each other learn the language. Parents had to volunteer their child for the program. They learned all their subjects this way. It was amazingly successful. You would not believe the opposition this caused on the part of some people and the last thing I heard they were losing funding. Stupidity seems to always win.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 1:01PM
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