Tuesday, February 20, 2007

English Already First in Immigrant Families, But to the Detriment of Bilingual Skills

According to various studies, immigrant families promote English internally, believing that it will create more opportunities for future generations. However, the 1st generation does not merely drag the 2nd and 3rd generations kicking and screaming to learn English. According to a 1998 study of 8th and 9th grade students in San Diego and Miami-Fort Lauderdale (cited by Lucy Tse in Why Don't They Learn English?, p. 31), two-thirds of 2nd generation immigrants favored using English over their parents' language. The causes of that preference include the powerful cultural and popular pulls of English, limited exposure to and less opportunities to learn the language of family heritage, parental and school misconceptions based on fear, and peer pressure.

So, without any government coercion, immigrant families push themselves to learn English. But there are also casualties that may be further harmed by local government mandating English. One of those casualties is bilingualism or the ability of 2nd and 3rd generations in immigrant families to utilize two languages at once. In the study of 8th and 9th graders, while researchers found that the students knew English well, they were progressively losing their bilingual skills. Among the Spanish-speaking students, fewer than half were fluent bilinguals.

Full post here.

Purcell's backbone on 'English First' is rare in these times

Purcell's backbone on 'English First' is rare in these times

Read full article here

This storm, like others before it, shall ultimately subside as we again, albeit grudgingly, welcome the enriching qualities of difference. We will embrace them and incorporate them into the ever- changing canvas we call America the beautiful, as we have ultimately done with every immigrant wave, whether through Jamestown or Ellis Island, through Miami or San Francisco.

Have we forgotten how and why this country was built and on whose backs this construction occurred, notwithstanding the displacement of those who were here before us? Of course, our effort to slam the door shut, now that we are in, is not new.

Every group has been critical of those who have arrived later than they did. The politically persecuted Anglo-Germanic populi were not very sensitive to those who fled withering grape and olive vines in Southern Italy or potato famines on the Emerald Isle. Nor did Italians and Irish think that those from Eastern Europe, Jew or Gentile, were good for anything but ready targets for billy clubs or fleecing scams. Unity among them came only in their opinions of those of us, the Africans, in our second migration, this time from the fields of woe behind the cotton curtain to teeming urban centers.

This has not been a great season for leadership in the polyglot of our country. We have favored fences over bridges and appear to the world as a spoiled bully with gunboats in too many ports. But in Nashville, silence was an option and a leader stepped up and spoke out. So to the mayor of Nashville who has chosen to resist the rush to the rear, the sound and fury that signifies nothing: Atta boy!

Monday, February 19, 2007

It's about lives, not just about English

Full article here

"As I spoke, I noticed tears in her eyes. I sat down with Maria and asked how everything was going. Apparently, her grandfather had been ill, and their regular doctor had recommended a specialist. Unfortunately, the specialist didn't speak their language. Additionally, even though the family had lived in Nashville for more than four years, neither Maria's parents nor her grandparents knew enough English to talk to the doctor, and they didn't trust a translator."

"Instead, they took Maria out of school to translate between her family and the doctor. So it happened that, after a tedious day of testing, it was Maria who had to tell her grandfather that he had only months to live. She was eight."


"What no one in this English language debate seems to want to discuss is that there are real people being exploited in this city. They live in destitution because our poverty is better than the hardship they have been accustomed to. Kept segregated by language, they are unable to utilize the opportunities around them."

Real motivations behind 'English first' aren't pretty

By Dwight Lewis
Full article here

I had an interesting phone conversation Wednesday with Guadalupe (Wally) Rendon, a 2003 graduate of the Diversity Institute at Vanderbilt University, which trains mostly people of color seeking a newsroom career.

He said there is a deeper motivation for people who push a law such as the one to make English the "official'' language here.

"For all these years, white people have been in control of most things in the United States,'' Wally said. "I grew up in Texas, not far from San Antonio, and the politicians were white, the sheriff was white, but now it's just the opposite.

"Some people are fearful of such changes, and they use the English only issue as a way of getting back at people, or to subside the trend of Hispanics moving ahead.''

It is true, Wally said, that many immigrants from around the world come to the United States not able to speak English but most of them attempt to learn. Unfortunately, he said, this does not happen overnight.

"Go to the places where they teach English as a second language, and you will see that most of them are full or have a waiting list,'' Wally told me. "These people have the will to learn it, but it's not going to happen overnight.''

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Jackie Mason: we have English and they've got bubkes

There may be those among you who support including Spanish in our national language. I for one am 110% against this! We must preserve the exclusivity and, above all, the purity of the English language. To all the schlemiels, schlimazels, nebbishes, nudniks, klutzes, putzes, shlubs, shmoes, shmucks, nogoodniks, and momzers that are out there pushing Spanish, I just want to say that I, for one, believe that English and only English deserves linguistic prominence in our American culture. To tell the truth, it makes me so farklempt, I'm fit to plotz. This whole Spanish schmeer gets me broyges, especially when I hear these erstwhile mavens and luftmenschen kvetching about needing to learn Spanish. What chutzpah! These shmegeges can tout their schlock about the cultural and linguistic diversity of our country, but I, for one, am not buying their shtick. It's all so much dreck, as far as I'm concerned. I exhort you all to be menshen about this and stand up to their fardrayte arguments and meshugganah, farshtunkene assertions. It wouldn't be kosher to do anything else. Remember, when all is said and done, we have English and they've got bubkes! The whole mynseh is a pain in my tuchas!

Jackie Mason