Practical Theory - The Origin
The Scholars in CyberEnglish
ToDaY's MeNu - Ted

Friday, March 16, 2012

English only, Really?

I am confused by mono-linguistic thinking in America. Recently a Republican presidential candidate has blundered through Puerto Rico exclaiming that English should be the dominant language of the island if it wishes to be a state. Certainly the details of this gaff have to be attributed to the English only group in America. This is so wrong headed.

As a teacher, I was so amazed when I saw my students engaging in a bilingual conversation. One student would speak in Chinese, Spanish, or another mother tongue and in English. I was so impressed with this linguistic gymnastics. I was jealous and embarrassed that I could only understand the English part of the conversation, because I'm handicapped: I'm mono-linguistic. On another occasion I took a couple of classes to see Shakespeare's "As You Like It." The production was organized by Tony Randall and Estelle Parsons. Once we were in Arden, one group spoke in Spanish, another group spoke in Chinese. The main characters spoke in English. What this immediately did was to get the attention of all of my students as well as those from other schools. They were more attentive and they laughed more at parts they didn't before. We had seen a film of the play as we read it, so they were all familiar with the play.

Why the English only speakers are wrong headed is that we need to support all languages as they will be available to defend our constitution in more languages, which makes more sense than English speaking only advocates. As we become more global, we need to be more aware of the nuances of other cultures and too often English does not have the words to help us understand a different culture and helps perpetuate the myth of the "ugly American."

Is there a connection that this same candidate suggested those who go to college snobs and home schooled his children. I see this candidate and those who support this English only agenda as isolationists and dangerous to the well being of America. It is about respect and what I hear is disrespect to other cultures from a presidential candidate and the English only crowd.


Classof1 said...

Well put Ted, with the world becoming smaller with technology. It's only fair that the students grow up in an environment where they would comfortable to various cultures and languages.

Anonymous said...

Bravo to you!! I too am handicapped and I applaud you in your originality and thinking outside the norm. I too am handicapped and never thought of it that way, but now I do. Thank you for shining light on my situation.