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. While linguist Geoffrey Pullum, comes up with his view in an essay, which calls English-only movement “the linguistic fascism”, and there is no need for the government to enforce people speak English. In fact, according to M. E Mujica in his essay Why the U. S. Needs an Official Language, the U. S government makes it easy for immigrants to live and work n their own native languages through bilingual education, multilingual ballots and driver’s license exams, and translators in schools and hospitals who are paid by the government. Mujica further argues that providing most essential services to immigrants in their native languages is expensive for American taxpayers and also keeps immigrants linguistically isolated. Miami, California have long history of bilingual education. Maurice Ferre, former mayor of Miami, believes that Spanish is the main form of communication in his city. Miami government’s website has both English and Spanish version.
Even the mayor’s after work voice call was answered by greetings in Spanish. However, multilingual government is not cheap, when it comes to cost taxpayers billions of dollars every year. Te federal government’s research showed that English-only teaching is more effective than multi-lingual teaching. Examples of failed multi-lingual socities are witnessed around the world. India, a country of more than ten official languages, is the worst example of chaotic society and bureaucracy nightmare, regardless English is still used extensively as an official language in India.
Without a single recognized common language, the government will have to spend incredible budge in translations, and running business will be ineffective. Canada’s dual-language requirement costs approximately $260 million each year. If U. S implements the same bilingual policy, the cost will be estimated more than $4 billion each year, not to mention the U. S has a greater population and many more languages to accommodate. In the government, printing election ballots in 7 languages and hire multilingual poll workers costs Los Angeles County $3. 3 million USD, accounts for 15 percent of the whole election budget.
San Francisco spends $350,000 each language for translating its bilingual government documents. Yet if all cities in the U. S implement the bill which requires all official documents translated into the language spoken by over 500 people in the city, the financial cost will be estimated $8 million. In the health-care industry, translation cost is skyrocketing since President Clinton issued the Order 13166. The order requires all hospitals and private clinics to provide translators for any language spoken patient at the cost medical institution’s own budget.
The cost of an interpreter can cost doctors up to $500 dollar per translator each time the patient come to see the doctor. Not to mention there are chances interpolators making mistakes, which may put patients in life-threaten danger. In civic administration, there is an tragidy happened on an immigrant in Orange Country, California, who was killed from falling into a 175 degree vat of chemicals at an metal-plating shop. The company stated the warning in its instructions that walking on the five-inch rail between tanks is strictly prohibited.
Unfortunately, the worker does not understand English which is used to write this message. In education section, there are 88 percent of students speak English as a second language at Miami Senior High School, failed the Florida comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). Poor results like this will disqualify these students’ graduation and block their road to higher education. After a protest held by more than 200 students and teachers, Miami introduced a bill that gives students the choice to do FCAT in either English or Spanish.
Multilanguage teaching environment is challenging to schools. Independent translators are hired to help translate teaching materials, while multilingual school staffs are in short supply. Training and hire such staffs are very expensive, which further adding extra costs to the schools’ tight finance. In conclusion, I do not oppose bilingual education if it is truly bilingual. It is entirely appropriate to teach a child English in his/her native language. But the other subjects are necessary to taught in English.
Proficiency in English is one of the single most important elements in personal success in the U. S. Native language is like the cradle, its warm, but one cannot forever live in the cradle. Yet multi-lingual society is too expensive to be practical. For these reasons, I firmly stand for using single official language for civic and educational purpose, and I am fully convicted that English-only movement is leading us to a sensible and reasonable direction. ——————————————– [ 2 ].
E, L, Judd One Nation, Many Tongues [ 3 ]. http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/English-only_movement [ 4 ]. Geoff Nunberg (December 28, 1986), Resolution: English Only, Linguistic Society of America, http://www. lsadc. org/info/lsa-res-english. cfm, retrieved 2008-02-17 [ 5 ]. S. I. Hayakawa, Bilingualism in America: English should be the Only Language [ 6 ]. Geoffrey K. Pullum. (1991), The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax and Other Irreverent Essays on the Study of Language, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 111–19