“Let them learn English”, but let’s learn another language, too

20 06 2009

I think that deep inside, when you strip away all the layers, each of us has a sense of fairness.  There is good-heartedness, generosity and kindness.  But it doesn’t always show, because sometimes we speak from some superficial, dogmatic layer which really isn’t us.  I write this criticism of some viewpoints about bilingual education in the U.S. in the spirit of fairness, with hopes to open eyes and minds.  But first I must vent.

A few days ago, the MSNBC blog for the Today Show posted a short piece about bilingual education for Hispanics.   It is good journalism, but the comments written by many readers really got to me.

I’m bothered by the underlying xenophobia of the comments.

I’m worried by the prejudice and unjustified fears.

I’m ashamed of the small-minded, “one language, one country” opinion.

I’m appalled by the unjustified fears that the U.S. is being overrun, just because it is seeing the largest wave of immigration in its history coming from speakers of a single foreign language.

I’m offended by the apparent mind-set that being an English speaker is somehow superior in the world, or should define a country of immigrants that has no official language.

I’m angered by the lack of sophisticated, progressive interest in the advances of education.  Education is handled by states and communities, not the U.S. government, and some communities obviously conceive of improving their schools and the country’s standing in the world, educationally speaking.

Read MSNBC’s blog post and the comments, then judge for yourself.  Since I have been multilingual from an early age, I guess I just don’t get it.  I think we should all be open to learning other languages.  Then perhaps people would not be so closed-minded.