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Tugi Francisco December 3, 2014 Writing_001 Van Bebber English Only Debate “Language conveys status, intellect, group loyalties, [it] evokes anger, pride, humor, and ridicule” (Crawford). Those aren’t the only thing language portrays but it’s a way for people communicate, learn, grow, understand, as well as simply discuss opinions which in turn create controversy in this world. English is a widely spoken language that is commonly used in the United States. A debate has occurred whether English should be the official language or whether we should embrace multilingualism and encourage the notion that not having an official language won’t affect us as a country. In the attempt to implement English only into society, it has developed the dispute whether official English affects America in a positive or negative manner. Throughout the English only debate, there’s been a constant argument whether or not multilingualism is a threat to our nation’s unity. The U.S has an abundant amount of languages scattered across the states, which allow for many cultures to speak in their native tongue in order for them to continue their traditions. However, due to the abundance of languages, many in the U.S believe that other cultures will begin to separate themselves or try to make their own language more superior over English. This gives rise to the question whether “English unites Americans through a common language” or not (Depatepedia). It is understandable that the states have a variety of languages however English does provide a common way to communicate to each other. English is important because it gives a way for other ethnicities to climb the social
ladder and make relationships with others to unify the diversity in the U.S. Although, the citizens whose native language isn’t English should be able to embrace their culture and continue to speak in whatever language they are comfortable with. The idea that speaking another language shouldn’t be a threat because it’s a part of their culture to speak in their own tongue so they can carry forward their traditions or festivities in their own culture. Robert D. King discusses in his article, “Should English be Law” that despite how many languages a country may have, it is possible to maintain stability and unity. He describes the term as “unique otherness”. King concludes his article that even “America has that unique otherness of which I spoke. In spite of all our racial divisions and economic unfairness, we have the frontier tradition, respect for the individual, and opportunity” (King). This continues the dispute whether English only causes integration or discrimination. The English only debate induces many opinions on the idea that English only causes integration or discrimination. People either explain that official English has nothing to do with discrimination or it’s another way to discriminate against others. The discussion that English has nothing to do with discrimination is that many immigrants travel to the states because they want to learn English to achieve the “American Dream”. English isn’t discriminating against races when people do understand that English is needed in order to succeed. Author, Greg Lewis, who wrote an “Open Letter to Diversity’s Victims” admits that “it’s important to speak, read, and understand English,” and he goes on to explain that speaking English while at the same time being diverse is a way to integrate people of different cultural backgrounds into society because “[larger companies] want to see their employees succeed. They don’t care what color your skin is.” However the discussion that official English can discriminate against non-English speakers is that it easily identifies the people that can be discriminated toward. Not only does it cause the
inability to communicate with other English-speakers but it gives rise to racism and begins to outcast such ethnicities. From personal experience, I’ve seen a situation where a couple new students came to our school, barely able to speak any English, and kids made racist jokes, taunting them because they couldn’t communicate which then began to socially outcast these new kids. Individuals apart of the English only debate are “often driven by anti-immigrant feelings, or pure racism” which supports the fact that official English does discriminate (Depatepedia). The English only dispute continues to confer the educational aspect. The debate constantly reviews English only education policies because of the large controversy whether or not those policies are effective. If we were to apply English only policies, it would allow education to be cheaper. If we had to take into account the bilingual or multilingual education it could be costly. We would then have to consider “hiring bilingual teachers, creating bilingual curriculum, creating tests in the foreign language, and buying different text books for these students” (Debatepedia). If the only concern in our education system was to improve our curriculums in English, then the spending amount to enhance that monolingual education would increase. People have argued that bilingual education is the reason why students who aren’t proficient in English drop out of school. Diane Ravitch, a former assistant secretary of education in the Bush Administration, blames bilingual education for the reason of Hispanic drop-out rates. In spite of her opinions, James Crawford, founder and president of the Institute for Language and Education Policy, argues against her statements and explains, “many students arrive too late in their school careers to become fully Englishproficient before graduation, although they are able to master other subjects.” Crawford goes on to describe that even being completely surrounded by English only classes, it doesn’t help a person of a different descent to prosper or learn english. “In Massachusetts, more than half of the
students were still limited in English after three years in structured English immersion classrooms” (Crawford). Bilingual education must also be considered because students are then able to maintain their own culture while aspiring to learn English. Crawford analyzes that “Welldeveloped skills in the native language are associated with high levels of academic achievement.” If students are able to speak proficiently in both languages, it only benefits society because communication between other countries will become more available. Meaning trade, resources, and the ability to make agreements with one another become more possible. The United States is troubled with this on-going debate and has yet to found a solution. Individuals have spoken and argued both sides and it’s difficult to defend both sides. However it’s even more challenging for me to see the downfalls of a multilingual country. It’s easy to recognize how English only affects society rather than help society progress. The English only debate gives me reason to believe that official English produces a more negative influence on the states.
Crawford, James. "Frequently Asked Questions about Official English." Diversitylearningk12. 1 July 2006. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. .
"Debate: English as US Official Language." Debatepedia. 17 Oct. 2010. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. .
King, Robert D. "Should English Be Law." The Atlantic. 1 Apr. 1997. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. .