Tuesday, December 13, 2005
English Only, Kid
We know black and brown folks are getting it from all angles, but this story -- about a young man suspended for speaking Spanish in his Kansas City high school -- is just kinda ignorant.
Or this story -- about a white teacher imposing HIS white world view and ways on a class of elementary school students, mostly Mexican -- is just kinda ignorant, too.
Let me clarify... the stories aren't ignorant. The world view that ONLY English is acceptable in the U.S. is kinda small-minded and ignorant. Since when is it a travesty to know and speak more than one language? To me, that says someone has in effect doubled his/her vocabulary and brain capability. How can that hurt anyone?
I went to a high school where it was mandatory to take language classes other than English... for all four years. A public school. And I continued my language studies, in this case Spanish, all four years in undergrad. Not just because it was mandatory, but because I knew it was smart to know and be able to communicate with more than English speakers. And I enjoyed learning another language, and looked forward to using it abroad and in the U.S.
And now that I've moved from the Midwest to the West Coast, I'm so glad I (and my high school) had the foresight to know that knowing more than one language is just plain smart.
Folks from all around the world know it's smart to know more than one language. It seems like we in the U.S. aren't as worldy or willing to learn about other folks as our neighbors around the world are. No wonder when we're traveling abroad, people think we (U.S. residents) are dogmatic, closed-minded, and just kinda backwards/uncouth.
Benefits other countries find in requiring second-language studies.