Essay on English-Only Movement

Topics: Language, Multilingualism, Official language Pages: 5 (1496 words) Published: November 27, 2010
An Argumentation on the Bilingual education and English-only Movement

The question of whether the U.S should have an official language and whether bilingual language education can be accepted is highly controversial. Hispanic concentrated areas like California, the Southwest and Florida are especially troubled by the proposed English-only movements. People stands for English-only movement claims that linguistic divisions is harmful to political unity, while single official language can provide the chance to the narrow down the distances between the rich and the poor. On the other hand, disbelievers of English-only movements are worrying about the violation of civil liberties which are people’s rights stated in the Constitution Amendment.

As an overseas student studying in the U.S, I totally disagree with bilingual education, and I am fully for the English-only movements in the United State of American.

In 1981, Hayakawa, Republican Senator from California, proposed to congress a constitutional amendment that claiming if there is an “Official Language” of the U.S, it should be English. I was known to the public as English Language Amendment (ELA), which has brought many controversies nation wildly since then. The proposal aimed to forbade both the federal government and any state from making or enforcing any law other than in English. Bilingual education should only be “transitional”, and anyone who wants to become an U.S citizen should learn and speak English. Hayakawa’s 1981 resolution was a milestone on the road of U.S official language disputes, also known as English-only movements.

Early English-only movements, started in the early 20’s, advocated English as a common and unifying language and is the only official language of the U.S. Since the U.S was the biggest immigration inbound country in the world, commonly used language included English, German, Spanish, and Italian. For the consideration of political unity, the states voted for English as the only official language. Currently, the United States federal government does not specify an official language, however, all official documents in the U.S. are written in English, though some are also published in other languages.

Different voices were raised against English-only movement. The Linguistic Society of America in its 1986 resolution stated that English only is inconsistent with basic American traditions of linguistic tolerance, and a common language is not the foundation of political and national unity. I disagree with this organization’s statement. Because I believe it is English that unites immigrants and native-born alike as Americans. Speaking in a single, common tongue will not only obtain trust, but also to certain extend eliminate racial hostility and bigotry. As an overseas student to his country, I am fully aware of the things that bind me and my local friends. Thanks for the common language we share. While it is our love of freedom and democracy brings us together, English is the single most powerful tool for me to be able to discuss our views and exchange different opinions.

Is English as official language helps our country to be united? I think the answer is YES. According to Hayakawa, we are living in a nation of immigrants; we do not share the characteristics of race, religion, ethnicity, or native language which form the common bonds of society in other countries. It is by learning and using a single commonly spoken language---English; we have been able to unify a much diversified population in the U.S. English is the backbone for the people to share views which eventually leads to a conclusion that we love freedom, democracy, and the country. This is how political unity is formed.

Some people argue that English-only movement is “another form of racism”. Marta Jimenez, an attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, states that the historical use of English in the U.S was as tool oppression....
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