Instituting Spanish as a Second Language In the USA

United States
January 10, 2007 5:03pm CST
I had a very weird experience today at the very moment I was responding to a topic about immigration. This is from a local TV station in Savannah. I had to find it and share it with you. Please see if you agree: In Plain English Brand new year. Same old slow-drip, cultural erosion. Upon entering one of our area's very large retail stores, last week, like most of us, I instinctively looked up for product-category locations on the always helpful overhead aisle-signs. And the locations were, indeed, posted there in big, easy-to-read letters, but now, in both English, and Spanish. This, in Coastal Georgia and South Carolina, still the United States of America, unless something baffling happened overnight. These days, we're finding more and more product packaging and instructions presented, for our inconvenience and confusion, in multiple languages. But for now, let's just assume it's simply about cost-efficiency in global distribution. But hanging aisle signs in both English and Spanish? Why, would be a fair question. Aside from the instant reminder of a far bigger national issue, and the fact that it's counter to what's really needed, it does give you a graphic idea of where our nation is headed, just like the popular, incredibly naïve view of our terrorism fight, if we don't start realizing more fully what's going on, and the damage we'll incur by ignoring it. We've said it before, and we'll say it again. We speak English here. The English language is our heritage, culture, and tradition. It's been made the official language by over half the states, including Georgia and South Carolina. The Senate voted to make it official nationally, but way too many spine-depleted House members have, thus far, resisted, preferring to walk the pandering path, hoping the millions of Spanish-speakers here illegally will one day be proclaimed instant voters, and return the love. Flying directly in the face of this foolish, self-serving resistance, it's instructive to know that "nearly two-thirds of Hispanic adults living in the U.S. favor making English the nation's official language," as do 75-percent of our legal immigrants, according to very recent Zogby polling-data. Today, we continue to welcome and encourage all those who've elected to enter our nation, valid documentation in hand. Who sincerely want to become law-abiding, tax-paying citizens, making positive contributions, and assimilating seamlessly into our society. Those who, by hard-work, responsibility, and achievement, truly desire to buy-into the American dream, not simply rent space here, remaining detached. In return, along with employment, all that we as a nation ask, of those yet unable to do so, is to learn English. Not much to require, in return for the boundless freedoms and opportunities this incredible nation has to offer. English proficiency is vital for: personal safety, access to further education and training, employment growth, societal-assimilation and acceptance. It's the obligation and responsibility of new residents to learn to speak our language, and to stick with someone who does, until they do. The United States is not now, nor will it become, a bi-lingual nation. The road to success here is paved with English. By all means, continue to speak in your native tongue, whatever it may be, privately, among family and friends. Or, in public, as may be required by your job. But the official language of commerce here, the official language of co-existence, and simple day-to-day activities in this richly-blessed country, is, and must remain, English. So, for the giant retailers, institutions and government agencies of our land, let's cease the likely unintended, but clearly separationist signal of bi-lingual signage. Restrict such to English, and then, if truly needed, provide a Spanish language "help" desk to assist those still in the process of learning our language. By fostering or falling prey to bi-lingualism in public life, we further enable, even encourage, the separation of population-sectors, thus delaying assimilation or even preventing it completely. And by so doing, compound the already-accelerating erosion of our historic culture and traditions, fundamental gifts that remain respected and cherished by most Americans, amidst the countless blessings we've received, throughout the centuries, in this magnificent land.
7 people like this
26 responses
• United States
11 Jan 07
I understand your feelings about the signs in English as well as in Spanish and I will share my story with you. After Hurricane Katrina I noticed quite an influx of Spanish speaking folks into New Orleans to help our city recover. These people had the proper documentation to be in the United States, had experience in roofing, construction, mold removal, and tree cutting. They came because our city was in ruins and the amazing thing is that they worked non-stop. Within weeks we had a problem and it was a big one. These Spanish speaking folks wanted to stay long term to continue with the recovery efforts and no one knew how to communicate effectively with them. They didn't speak English and we didn't speak Spanish. There wasn't any time for anyone to go to school or get any education of how to communicate effectively. They wanted to buy groceries, put money into our banks,participate in church activities, rent apartments, and get the economy somewhat moving. It wasn't long before cardboard signs starting appearing at banks, restaurants, grocery stores etc with both English and Spanish. I guess the moment of "we need a quick solution and fast" is when the police department started getting calls about crimes and they had no idea what the Spanish person was saying. We didn't have a chance to put up a "help desk". We needed multi-lingual speaking people to help with the crime. Five months ago I had to leave New Orleans for a job offer here in New Mexico so when I see the English/Spanish signs I don't think too much about them. I haven't heard one person speaking Spanish here so I had to ask someone what was up with the signs and her reply was the seniors and elderly citizens still have trouble with English and we have to try to accomodate them. I will always believe that English needs to be the primary language here in America but I also wanted to share my experience with you.
• United States
11 Jan 07
Thank You for Sharing
• United States
12 Jan 07
I have no problem with anyone foreigner coming here for whtever reason they have. The problem I have have s that if they want to be here in the US, work in the US and communicate with the US, then they need to learn the language which so happens to be English. If they are not willing to do this then they do not belong here. I refuse to accommodate (sorry for spelling) just because they refuse to learn the language. When I go to India, I have learned some of the language enough to communicate with those there. I o not care what country you go to, either learn the language there or don't go. Most of them do not make acceptions just because you can't speak the language. I am sick and tired of this situatio and I am sick and tired of those coming here illegally (from any country)! Either do it legally or stay out.
@kgwat70 (13395)
• United States
11 Jan 07
I think learning spanish should still be an option and not be a requirement. English is our language and we should stick to it and not allow people to change that. Learning spanish though can be helpful in some ways since your chances of getting a job are greater now if you can speak bilingual instead of one language. People coming here from another country need to learn the English language. I used to have a roommate in college and he only spoke spanish so you could probably tell how that roommate situation turned out. We couldn't understand a thing we were saying. LOL
@irisheyes (4372)
• United States
11 Jan 07
There have been and continue to be many immigrations to this country. A lot of immigrants have struggled with language from the Germans in the 19th century through the Vietnamese and Laotians of today. NEVER was their language considered as a second American language. I see no reason for an exception to be made for Spanish speaking immigrants. They are not being put down or discriminated against. They are merely being asked to do what every other non-English speaking immigrant has had to do - Learn the language of their new country.
3 people like this
@bonbon50 (659)
• United States
11 Jan 07
I am with you in being irritated in our bending over to accommadate immigrants and feel they should know the basics of our language in order to remain here. I know most people will probably bulk at this, as America has always been portrayed as the land of the free and open to all. America welcomed immigrants of all kinds when they were trying to get this land established as a country. But, we have been established for some time now. We have our own culture and I don't feel it's right to change things to the larger percent of present immigrants. Being established for some time now, I believe we should have closed our borders some time ago.....and scrutinize visitors very closely. Especially today, as almost everyone outside of here seems to hate us.
3 people like this
@cowgirl2701 (2081)
• United States
10 Jan 07
Yes they need to learn our language. People who speak other languages are going to start demanding we learn their language also. Before long everyting is going to be posted in 20 different languages. LOL. I do think it should be a requirement to live here to learn English. ASAP.
3 people like this
• United States
11 Jan 07
So many good responses. I too believe we should make English the official language and anyone wanting to live here should learn it. If I were to emmigrate to another country, I would certainly learn the language first. I live in America and don't feel the need to learn the language of every immigrant, legal or not, who comes here and then wants me to learn their language. I don't even travel to foreign countries, in part, because I don't know the language and would not enjoy travelling where I constantly had to try to find someone to translate. Cowgirl, I realize you were joking about having to print everything in 20 different languages. But do you know how close to the truth you are? In Los Angeles they have to print all official documents in several different languages 5 or 6 at last count. Every ballot for every voter, every sample ballot, every sign in every goverment building. It is staggering. DoubleB, businesses may think they are increasing their market by going the bilingual route, but there is a growing movement to boycott any stores or manufacturers whose signage or products contain foreign languages. To take it one step further, at my daughter's graduation, the welcome speech was given in Spanish, the rest of the ceremony was done in English with a Spanish translation. But being ignored in the welcoming address sure set a bad tone for the Americans in the audience.
• United States
11 Jan 07
I can imagine that did annoy some of the audience. Thank You
@kathy77 (7488)
• Australia
11 Jan 07
Well for a start in my country what they are doing if anything is in another person's language they have to have it in English as we are an English speaking race, as before when signs, costs etc were in their own language they could get away with this but not any more as they are tightenup on this, we do also have a helper for anything that has to do with government, but not only one language but many.
2 people like this
@Lakota12 (42681)
• United States
11 Jan 07
I total agree . America has alway spoke English and should remain so . when the immigrants get here there are all kind of classes that they can take to learn English. I have a daughter in law that is from Panama and it is very very hard for us to communicate and she talks Latin America Spanish fast! and I just nod I talk Eniglish she talks her talk but some how we get it across what we are getting at I took her and her Nephew shopping yesterday and they talked their talk around me and I felt vrey left out I think it is rude to do that here yup she needs badly to talk english and Englis the only lauguage spoken here in America!
2 people like this
@Shaun72 (15968)
• Palatka, Florida
10 Jan 07
I agree it seems like her in Florida there are alot of people that only now Spainish I only know English and I am not about to go take any classes because that is what others speak
@rosie_123 (6118)
11 Jan 07
OK - maybe I am seeing this from a different perspective because I live in the UK - but I really don't see what the problem is. Here in the UK ALL official forms (Welfare, Benefits etc) are available in many dfferent languages - not just English and Welsh (even though this is a very small minority language), but many Asian languages such as Urdu and Punjabi, and Eastern European languages such as Polish. We also always have interpreters working in Government organisations and Citizens Advice Bureaus etc. to help people. Also - when you travel in other EEC countries - most of the announcements on trains, train stations etc are in French, German and English as well as the native language of that particular country. You do not have to lose your identity or pride in your own country, to be a little more understanding and welcoming towards others (many of whom may be refugees) and a little less insular. Just my opinion anyway.
1 person likes this
@gifana (4836)
• Portugal
11 Jan 07
Well put, Rosie. I live in Portugal and what you say is true in every respect. In addition to that, children from about age 10 I believe are given courses not only in Portuguese but also in French and English in their curriculum. We Americans are so far behind in this aspect and in a way inferior. A point that most Americans refuse to admit. Things are much clearer when you are outside looking in.
@rosie_123 (6118)
11 Jan 07
Thanks for your support gifana. It is true about Portugal - in fact in all European countries we start to learn a second language at the age of 7 (in the UK it's usually French as they are our nearest neighbours) and normally a third by 11 or 12. We have no other choice - as you can easily drive through 6 different countries in one day in Europe - each with it's own language, culture and identity. Personally I think it's a great thing - learning a different language helps you get to know the people better and surely that can only be a good thing? Being so insular and almost afraid of leaning and accepting other languages is how misundestandings and problems can arise between people from diferent lands.
@limosonia1 (1559)
• United States
11 Jan 07
If my mother saw me write this she would have a fit. We are always argueing about this subject. My father and mother are both spanish they came over about 38 years ago. They had to learn english to survive and my father agrees that if you come to the country learn english. It's out of respect. Now I was born and raised hear and my father was determined that english was my first language and spanish my second. I have never known anything different. Now kids are taught in spanish and english is the second language they learn. I had a huge fight when my daughter enter school because they ask you what you are then they wanted to test my daughter to see if she could speak english. They were thinking about sticking her into a spanish clas. I refused to have her tested. I told the principle if her english isn't good enough (which it was)(it's the only thing I speak unless I am around my parents) then your job is to teach her it. Not stick her in a special class. I was so upset. They didn't understand why. The parents usually argue that the kids education isn't good enough if not taught to them in thier language.Was the principles answer. I was so shocked I looked at my and asked in this the united states right we speak english here or did we move when I was sleeping. He started laughing. Of course I am a very small percentage that feels this way and maybe it's because my parents struggled so hard to make things work for them and now it seems like everything gets handed to everybody.
1 person likes this
• United States
12 Jan 07
You and your parents have the right idea, thanks
• India
12 Jan 07
it is a good decision.U S people can improve there ability in spanish also
1 person likes this
@inked4life (4226)
• United States
11 Jan 07
If you move to a country that has a different native language than your own then it is up to you to take the time to learn that language. I couldn't imagine moving to France for instance and demanding that they institue English a second language just beacause myself and some other english-speaking people had decided to relocate there.
1 person likes this
• United States
11 Jan 07
This is something that has bothered me for a long time. If you want to come to the US, then learn English. If were were going to post things in every language group that resides here, we would have everything written in scores of languages. If I were going to go to Spain, I would expect to learn Spanish. At least enough to get me through while I continued to learn once I got there.
@Meljep (1668)
• United States
11 Jan 07
There are just as many people from India and France living here as Spanish speaking peoples. Why don't we see packaging in those languages. The Indian people are making a great contribution to the American society, why can't they get the same recognition?
@Bevsue (251)
• United States
11 Jan 07
AMEN! All the other newcomers from other countries were expected to learn English if they wanted to live here, what is the big deal?If you leave your country of origin because living conditions are so bad and you come to a new place to try to do better in life the LEAST you can do is learn the common language as a sign of respect and appreciation for the opportunities you find here.
1 person likes this
• United States
11 Jan 07
I think they should make it a requirement in the U.S. that before they can be allowed to work here or live here in this country, either by visa, or through naturalization, they need to be forced to take an english language course where they learn to speak it and write it. And, before they can be given a green card, citizenship or work permit, they have to show fluency in english. And if they fail the exam or cannot take learning the language seriously then they lose their rights to stay here. If it means that much to them, they will take the steps to learn it. And, I think the classes should be offered for free so that there are no excuses about income or inability to learn. I have no problems that they want to preserve their culture and traditions but they need to respect and preserve ours as well. And, if the United States is good enough for them to move to then they need to learn our language if they want to prosper here. Simple as that.
• United States
11 Jan 07
I believe that it can only help for children to learna second or third language , definately nothing bad can come of it only good :-)
1 person likes this
@sanell (2114)
• United States
11 Jan 07
well interestingly enough, Spanish is a second language for the US, whether it is known nationally or not, it is here....I believe that English will always be the primary language for the states, but Spanish is the second highest in population, even more than African americans!! YES THAT IS CORRECT!
• United States
11 Jan 07
What an excellent topic here. I too feel that if people want to speak something other then English, that's fine as long as they do it in the privacy of their home, or someone else's home. They can also talk among themselves in public but to expect us to lean another language just because they do not want to speak English that is wrong. If we were to go to another country (non in particular), they wouldn't make those people in that country learn whatever language I or others speak just to accomodate me or others. My personal opinion is that if you want to be here in the USA, then you need to learn the language, speak the language or leave & go home or elsewhere. Another thing tat just irks me is other people free wave their countries flag here in the USA. if you ant to wave yourcountries flag, do it in your country, not here in the USA. I will say though. Since no one is doing anything about this situation, the US will soon be a Spanish speaking country first & other languages secondary. You wait and see, I guarantee this one. When my ancestors came to America, they taught their children English. That was a very long time ago but my ancestors respected the US enough to only speak our language at home. By the way, I am talking about the language German. I will be gald I am leaving this country soon because I will not live in a country where they allow others to come here illegally (no matter what country those came from) & take over the US.