How many think that foreigners should learn English?

United States
January 15, 2007 10:05am CST
I am a citizen of the United States and was taught English as my national language.But it seems lately that so many non-English speaking people are in our country ,not learning the language and taking all the jobs!How many people have spent alot of time on the phone trying to get help with something and spent alot of time just trying to understand what the person on the other end was saying because their English wasn't so good,Or the doctor you have to take your kids to because of your insurance is foreign and you have a hard time understanding them and wonder if the truly understand you
19 people like this
131 responses
@mrstigs (63)
• United States
15 Jan 07
While I agree that you should speak the language of the country you live in one of the things that a lot of people don't realize is that the USA has no official language. While english is the language de facto (which is latin for "in practice") it has never been formally declared the national language.
6 people like this
• United States
15 Jan 07
Just because there is no "Offical Language" that is not an excuse for not learning it if you are going to life/work in another country. That kind of symantecs is what I lovingly calling pulling the fly Sh-t out of the pepper.
• United States
15 Jan 07
Mrstigs, I agree with you. The fact is, there is NOT an official language here. I think that people are just rude and impatient here. Give people a break! I think people are a bit afraid that they won't understand a person with a deep accent when they start talking to them which brings on a bit of anxiety, or they are afraid to ask them to repeat what they said. It is probably mostly spanish speaking people that are the topic of this discussion. Why can't we Americans learn another language? Why can't we try to adapt instead of getting angry?
3 people like this
16 Jan 07
Why can't we learn another language? Why should we? Foreigners come to the States expecting a better life. If they want to be a part of the American culture, then please learn the language. If they want to be here, then learn English. If they don't want to learn English, then maybe they shouldn't be here. I have come across quite a few people that refused to learn English. That to me is rude. Live in the States, learn the language. It shouldn't be the other way around.
2 people like this
• United States
15 Jan 07
I agree if you come to the US then know how to speak English this is a English speaking country. It really annoys me. like when you call your cell phone company or something and they ask if you prefer it in spanish. If I went to Russia I would be expected to speak thier language shouldnt that apply here too? I think so.
6 people like this
• United States
15 Jan 07
I agree with you,but it isnt just the cell phone company it is almost everywhere you call.I understand that this country was formed for the freedom of everyone but I think there should be some more resources put into effect that would require an audible level of english to be used and understood before gaining employment in this country were you would have to deal directly with the public,and at the current rate of Spanish speaking immigrants in our country that Spanish should be taught in our public schools starting in Kindergarten.
5 people like this
• United States
15 Jan 07
AMEN BamaBug!!! that's what I AM SHOUTING girlfriend!! If they stay over a week here; they need to FLUENTLY properly speak OUR language. I have no problem with anyone working; but not the way illegals do. It is a direct affront to my familys' living.I know first hand what its like to see a foreigner doing a job that should have been given to ENGLISH speaking people.I just about guarantee you that they feel the same way when english ONLY speaking AMERICANS go to their country. And if I should ever choose to go to another country(but why should I huh?LOL)I will not go without a working knowledge of THEIR language!!!
4 people like this
@itsjustmeb (1213)
• Canada
15 Jan 07
I think if you go to a new country, ANY new country, and you expect to obtain employement, you should learn the language which is being spoken. I mean the same would happen if you went to another country (not the US or Canada, I mean) and if you wanted to work, you would need to know how to communicate with others in that country.
6 people like this
@urbandekay (18314)
15 Jan 07
Hi, I'm a Brit but I agree and we have a similar problem here. Most importantly if should be a parents responsibility to produce their child at school in a fit state to be educated and that includes a reasonable ability in the English language. Recently, here a girl was arrested because she complained that the girls she was in a group working with spoke no English! It is unfair on those Children that do speak good English. all the best urban
6 people like this
@gifana (4838)
• Portugal
15 Jan 07
Not me. They are free to learn the languages they choose. I think it is high time that more Americans started learning to speak, or at least read, other languages....they might get a better perspective of what is really going on in the real world. We as Americans (or the Brits for that matter) are in no position to make any "foreigner" learn English. However, I will subdivide this posting and say that if foreigners plan to make their residence or become citizens then in that case I do think they should learn the language at leaast enough to understand others and make their words understandable. As a resident in Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries I made it a point to learn their language..it was not up to them to speak English. At first it was hard but with practice, as in anything else, it becomes easier. The only country where I lived that I was unable to learn the language was South Vietnam. Fortunately most of them spoke French which I understood tho could not speak. And a few of them spoke English, mainly because of the US and Australian troops deployed there. We Americans must get off our high horses and not feel that the world should come to us. We have to get on ours and meet them half way, at least.
@Shar11 (419)
• United States
15 Jan 07
I agree with a lot of what you say here..America is changing and sometimes change is hard but it's not always a negitive thing either.. As an English speaking person working in a hospital I made it a point to learn some basic Spanish because a large majority of my patients were Spanish..I didn't see it as a bad thing..It was actually great to learn to speak another language and I felt I could be a better nurse if I made that effort to understand people who spoke a different language..And a lot of these people were learning English but as someone else said..It isn't easy so why not meet half way? I spent a summer in Belgium and spent 6 weeks studying Flemish before I went. I found most people there actually would go right to English when I began talking to them in the little Flemish I knew, but they still felt I showed some respect for trying.. It goes both ways I guess...We need to be more tolerant and respectful of each other...
• Singapore
16 Jan 07
I agree with you totally!
2 people like this
• United States
16 Jan 07
I heartliy agree that everyone should learn at least one other language, but that should be a language of their choice, not one that is forced on them. America is a melting pot, and if we do not adopt some formal standard, we will soon not be able to function as a culture or country. We simply cannot do business in all of the many different languages and dialects spopken by everyone who comes here. Asking that emmigrants ( legal or illegal) make some effort to assimilate themselves into our culture, instead of asking us to adopt theirs is entirely reasonable, not arrogant. You mention that we cannot expect the world to come to us, but it seems that that is exactly the problem.
2 people like this
@boogasmom (149)
• United States
15 Jan 07
I think anyone that comes to this country to stay should learn English. It is not our job to conform to thier way of life in thier country. This is our birth country in which we were taught it's language. Just like if we were born in another country we would have been taught it's language. Just because you were not born here, does not mean that you shouldn't have to learn at least some of the language. Make an effort at least.
5 people like this
• Nigeria
15 Jan 07
Yes!! if you decide to come and live in our country then you should be REQUIRED to learn our language! I bet that if any of us go to France or somewhere then we will probably have to learn THEIR language to survive!!! they're NOT going to pacify to us just because we can't speak French, German, etc.!!!! so why should we try to pacify to them just because they don't know how to speak English???? sorry, but that's my opinion!! P.S. my mother is an immigrant from Anambra. she came to the LAgos when she was four years old. in the public school system, she was taught to speak english. then, my mom helped my grandparents learn the English language!! my mother still speaks Igbo to our family and friends though!! so, I DON'T believe that they should drop their language altogethter!! they just need to learn it to be able to make a living!
4 people like this
@gifana (4838)
• Portugal
15 Jan 07
It is impossible to drop a native tongue altogether. I have been outside the US 50 years and I haven't dropped my native tongue. It gets rusty sometimes (that's one of the reasons I am in myLot to help me get back to my roots and improve my English) but it is ingrained from birth.
@Brooke3 (614)
15 Jan 07
Actually I think you would find that if you go to most countries in Europe nearly everyone speaks English. They may not like it much but they will talk to you in English. It would be a less pleasant way to get by but it would be possible.
3 people like this
@Eskimo (2329)
15 Jan 07
You try living in England where English actually originated, law now allows doctors from any EEC country to practice in England without being able to speak a word of English, but Doctors from U.S.A, Australia or new Zealand who all speak English have to pass an English exam before being allowed to be a doctor in England. There is a lot different between English and the English spoken in America. I've heard the expression used by Americans ' a quarter of eight', what exactly does it mean? to me it would mean 2 o'clock, but I think it means something different to Americans.
3 people like this
• Abbotsford, Wisconsin
16 Jan 07
'a quarter of eight' I do not hear... much but I justed asked dad, and he said that would be 7:45 .... Meaning a 1/4 or 1 quarter of an hour. But I know my parents say 'a quarter to eight' meaning 7:45 and a 'a quarter after eight' meaning 8:15 . - DNatureofDTrain
1 person likes this
• United States
15 Jan 07
Foreigners in the United States should learn English. Not only us English the primary spoken language here, but it is the universal language around the world. English is even the EASIEST language to learn, verbally and grammatically. So come on it's not that hard. If you yourself we to travel to a foreign land the same should/would be expected.
3 people like this
• Abbotsford, Wisconsin
16 Jan 07
English is NOT one of the Easiest languages to learn. It is one of the hardest.. It depends on which areas you work in internationally as well. - DNatureofDTrain
@gifana (4838)
• Portugal
15 Jan 07
You may think that learning English is easy. It isn't. Most Americans have a great deal of difficulty learning another language because the grammatical structures are completely different. When they speak they are mentally translating their language and using their grammatical structure. What they say seems logical to them until they learn that they cannot translate literally. I went through the reverse procedure when I lived abroad and had to learn Spanish and Portuguese. I, too, tried to translate literally and my meaning (and bad pronounciation) didn't help matters. Unless you have lived and worked under the same conditions it will be very difficult for you to understand that they are doing the best they can....they probably wished that they spoke English better more than you. I found that I improved with the help of others who would correct me when I made a mistake. So if we can put the shoe on the other foot and be more understanding perhaps someday these people who you are now trying to critize (unjustly I might add) will reach their goal to speak the good English you want.
3 people like this
• United States
16 Jan 07
I totally agree with you. Learning another language is NOT easy for some people. I have taken German for 3 years in high school and 4 spanish classes in college. I still suck. It's just not my strong point and I think it would take me perhaps a decade or more to reach fluency or even (if not fluent) be comfortable enough to speak in the other language.
2 people like this
@owlwings (38187)
• Cambridge, England
15 Jan 07
We have a similar problem in Britain now that we have people from the European union coming to work here (legally). One of the criteria for British Nationality is to pass a basic language test.
3 people like this
@wahmoftwo (1298)
• United States
15 Jan 07
I sooo completely agree with you one this one. As far as I know the other countries aren't nearly as hospitable as far as providing traslators to tourists or people that are imigrants. We should ask these people to educate themselves. I would do the same if I were moving out of the US. I wouldn't WANT to have to depend on some else to trasatle for me.
3 people like this
• United States
15 Jan 07
Yes everyone should learn the language of the country that they plan to live in. If they are vacationing here then I would understand, I sure didn't learn Italian when I visited Italy for 4 weeks but GODAMN if you are going to actually LIVE somewhere learn the language good enough to function within the society.
3 people like this
@ercsa2002 (163)
• Romania
15 Jan 07
i totally agree with you. i am from romania, my mother tongue is hungarian but in school we have to learn romanian also because without it we would be lost here. on the other side we learn english since we are like 5 years old because it is the international language of the world. i speak and write pretty good and when i was in the usa to work for 1 summer i was lucky with my english. i got job because they previously hired a russian girl who could bearly speak english and understood half of what she's been told. not knowing english for foreigners is hard and is harder for you also because your chances for a job are lower. sorry for that...
3 people like this
• United States
15 Jan 07
Heck yes! If you are going to live in this country (US for me) you should be able to speak the language. People don't go to France or Japan or anywhere and expect the other people to have things in English for them, if you're going to live somewhere, know how to speak the language! I don't think things should be offered in Spanish or any other language in the US. If you can't speak English, learn right away, or maybe think about moving out, as English is our language. 300,000,000 people should not have to change to speak your language because you cannot speak ours.
3 people like this
@clownfish (3278)
• United States
15 Jan 07
Hi! I think if someone comes here to live permanently from another country, they should learn to speak English.
@dip_cool (411)
• India
15 Jan 07
well i dont think it is necessary to learn english if you are going to stay in your country only and interact with them.but if you are going to interact with the world and different people and also plan on making yourself a good career then learning english is a must.you may have to move abroad for educational or employment purposes and english is absolutely necessary their.
@chelle350 (136)
• United States
15 Jan 07
I think they should learn english. I work with alot of non english speaking people and it irritates me when the supervisor explains instructions in spanish but not english. I don't know what they're saying so how am I supposed to follow the rules?
3 people like this
@Sarah1977 (496)
• United States
15 Jan 07
I am an American, and the way I see it is that if I were going to move to another country whose National language was different from mine, I would definitely learn the language. I would not expect that country to cater to me by doing what America does....one example being ATM machines that ask you if you want to do the transaction in English or Spanish (UMMM....I thought I was in America?!?). And for those of you who may be thinking that I am racist, I absolutely am not. My husband is from Puerto Rico, and I am a professional Salsa dancer. I just feel that it is a matter of respect for the country in which you are CHOOSING to live. In almost every city, they have FREE classes in the local high school or college that teach English. In my opinion, if our country didn't make it so easy for non-English speaking individuals, they would be forced to try to learn English. For the record, out of respect for my husband and his native land, I have learned and speak Spanish.
3 people like this
@cjsmom (1423)
• United States
15 Jan 07
I believe whole heartedly that people who want to come to our beautiful country, the land of the free, should learn English well enough before they even come over here. After all, they expect us to know their language when we go to their country. It also upsets me when our country will give monies to foreigners in order to open 7-11's but don't help their own. Can someone explain this to me?
3 people like this