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Being Bilingual in America

By ShaShaFierce Dec 20, 2009 1909 Words
Bilingual in America
{text:bookmark-start} {text:bookmark-end} Bilingual in America {text:bookmark-start} {text:bookmark-end} Shonese Warrington {text:bookmark-start} {text:bookmark-end} AED/200
October 18, 2009
Kimberly D. Jackson
Bilingual in America
There are many ongoing debates on whether or not our children should learn more than one language. I feel that it is imperative in today’s society to know more than one language. Knowing more than one language opens up so many doors. It looks great on a resume to show that you are bilingual. Most people still have the misconception that Spanish is the language that is the only language that would be worth their time learning. Actually the 2nd most spoken language in the world is Chinese; Spanish is third followed by Japanese and then French. In order for our children to compete in the world market they must speak at least one of these languages in my opinion. Our population is changing and the world is becoming more diverse. We must expose our children to other languages and cultures so they realize that the world is much bigger than what is outside of our door and we must make an effort to communicate with everyone in it. It will help all of us as a nation and more broadly a world if will all have the skills necessary to effectively communicate with one another. It will make the world seem as if it is not so vast if we have the ability to express ourselves to one another and be able to do it in each other’s native tongue. Why do so many people believe that English should be the official language? According to Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), "According to 1990 U.S. Census data, there are more than 300 languages spoken in the United States by people whose primary language is a language other than English.” While diversity is truly an asset, the government is tasked with ensuring that non-English speakers participate in our government. By discouraging assimilation through accommodation, the Federal government is doing a disservice not only to those who deserve the same opportunities as everyone else, but to society as a whole. American studentscould become bilingual. Why not follow in the footsteps of our neighbor to the north, Canada? In 1763, Canada was taken over by the English after being in French rule. England and France tried to work out things peacefully. English for the most part was adopted as the majority language, except in Quebec. In 1867, Canada officially became a bilingual country. The French language, however, was not greeted with favor. French speakers were greeted with hostility and many areas passed anti-French laws. In 1960's after years of fighting a new policy was set up, after Quebec threatened to succeed. Today, battling still occurs, over 20 years ago Quebec banned outside English signs. Would this ever happen in America? In a country teeming with diversity, where racism still thrives, yes it would. Do not think that it is only Canada with problems with their bilingual policies. Paraguay, for instance has a bilingual language system that is revered throughout the world, but its system has issues. Paraguay has problems with its educational programs because some children speak Spanish but most speak the native language of Guarani. If learning another language was part of the everyday curriculum here in the United States it would give our kids a great educational advantage. The vast majority of children around the world know another language as well as their native tongue. In Europe, for example, where different countries are as close together as the different state are here. It is imperative that the children speak several different languages because of the close proximity of the different countries they often times travel back and forth between them especially if their families live along the border of two countries. With the influx of people coming to the Unites States from all over the world it is imperative as students and even educators to learn at least a second language in order to communicate more efficiently with the people that live in our communities. The people that are coming into this country that speak a foreign language will need to learn how to speak English. Wouldn’t it be easier for the new student and the teacher if we as educators and even the students in the classroom already spoke their language? It would make the child feel so much more comfortable and would assist in their learning if they had more help from their peers. If there is a language barrier it makes learning so much harder for a student. It is my belief that educators should attempt to learn another language just for themselves. I am seriously considering learning how to speak Spanish, French and possibly Mandarin Chinese. I want to broaden my ability to teach as many children as I can and I know that learning other languages can help me achieve that. This is why it should be mandatory that children are learning and becoming fluent in more than one language sooner than later. Many studies show that children learn language best at a young age. It might be to our advantage to start teaching this skill at a younger age so it becomes second nature like our native tongue is. There are many debates on whether or not we as Americans should learn a second language just because there are so many people in our Country from various backgrounds. There are many people that believe that English should be the only language that we and our children speak. America has always been a multilingual nation. I am originally from New York and there are many communities all over the five boroughs where there are people coming to the United State from all over the world that cannot speak a word of English. They move into these communities like Chinatown and Little Italy and everyone speaks the language of their country and they don’t ever have to learn English if they stay in their community. But how realistic is that? Not very realistic at all I would say. It is so bad that when you make a phone call that the recording might ask you what language you prefer to hear the information in. Children will be more and more inundated with the addition of more and more different languages as our country becomes more of a melting pot. These various immigrants are not just flocking to major U.S. cites any longer. They are realizing that they can find work and nice places to live all over the country so we all must make adjustments whether we want to or not. It is for the betterment of our country. Our children need to be bilingual especially since so many immigrants are coming into the country. Statistically soon non-English speakers will outnumber us. It is not about surrendering our country to foreigners it is about going with the flow and doing what is best for all of us to relate to one another and survive in these changing times. On the other hand, I can see the frustration of Americans saying that they cannot go anywhere without hearing another language being spoken. For instance, a restaurant or another place of business that you might visit in your travels might have non-English speaking employees there. Some people get upset and even offended when they come across someone like this. If they think back into their own families’ history I am sure that their families came to the United States not knowing how to speak English either. Their ancestors encountered the same prejudices that they are now displaying towards other people. Our children can change all of these misconceptions if they are taught tolerance and how to be cognizant of how you treat people that might seem different from themselves. It is important that they learn about different cultures and customs as early as possible and in the best and most positive light so they do not grow up with preconceived notions as to how someone is or is not just because of where they come from. It is not fair to anyone to make a judgment based stereotypes and assumptions based on the language that they speak. If our children are taught all of these important skills very early on in life it will make their lives and the way they relate to the people around them so much better. We come in contact every day with people of all ethnicities we would all do a better job as a people and a community if we could speak more than one language. It is a way of including people that could easily be left by the wayside. It is an inevitable progression that the country must allow to take place. Children are the way we can change the way things are done in this country. If we make learning a new language a priority instead of a chore and explain to children how important knowing a second or even third language is to their place in the world. Because so many countries are teaching English to their youth that is one of the major reasons so many of our jobs have been outsourced to these places. As soon as we realize that we need to learn other languages to help us succeed as a country we will be better off. Children are eager to learn new languages and new customs. They are just curious by nature. We should hone in on the youth and teach them as many skills be it a new language or a new way of thinking about things to help us be able to compete on a global scale. It is an easy solutions to a multitude of issues that we have here at home. We have a bad reputation of not wanting our children to learn another language and that basically all other ethnicities should bow down to us and learn our language or basically go back to where they came from. That is not what most of us really want it is steeped from frustration and ignorance. Children more than anyone can break down these barriers that have been set by people that are reluctant to major change. They might feel as if they are giving up too much by incorporating new languages into the curriculum. How many shows have we all seen with children from all four corners of the globe in classrooms reciting English phrases. The children are so happy and so eager to learn because they know it will open up doors and give them opportunities that they might not have if they do not learn English. The same should be said of other languages. What is to say that the same opportunities do not await our children if we open them up to the possibility of learning a new language? All one has to do is see the economic boom in places like India and China I am sure a lot of the economic upswing in those countries is directly related to the fact that the population knows how to speak English. We should take note and move forward as they have. `

References:
http://shelby.senate.gov/public/
http://www.workings.com/LIA_BE.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bilingual_education

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