Problems with English-Only Policies

Topics: Multilingualism, Second language, Language acquisition Pages: 3 (737 words) Published: November 2, 2005
This article focuses English-only policies that are imposed in the workplace and the effects/possible effects that it has on employees whose first language is not English. While many companies are aware that they need to be "multilingual friendly" from a customer services standpoint and will hire bilingual and multilingual employees to accommodate non-English speakers' needs; they also impose rules that do not allow multilingual speakers to speak anything but English in the workplace, even within private, non work-related conversations. These companies feel that by imposing English-only rules, they are creating greater cohesion and unity among employees, but they are really only advocating uniformity.

Terms to Know:
•Communicative Competence: A person's ability to select a situationally appropriate code (language) (Speicher, 2002). •Code Switching: Changing from one language or dialect to another either within or between conversations (Speicher, 2002) •Monolingual: Using or knowing only one language (Dictionary.com) •Bilingual: Using or able to use two languages, especially with equal or nearly equal fluency (Dictionary.com) •Multilingual: Using or having the ability to use several languages (Dictionary.com) •Monolingual English Privledge (Johnson, 2000): "The right not to be subjectied to varieties othe than [one's] own (Speicher, 2002)."

Looking at the Problem:
I.Communication
a.Communication Competence
i.Immigrants and multilingual speakers whose first language is not English, sometimes have heavy accents or trouble speaking English. 1.How do you feel this affects their place in the workforce? b.Code Switching

i.This is something that is done naturally in conversation. ii.Many times, non-native speakers will switch to their native language when speaking with someone else of the same background. 1.Is this appropriate in the workplace? If so, when?

II.English-only Policies
a.Businesses are trying to impose English-only...
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