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Language in the Classroom - "English-Only" Policies: Left of Center View

A recent study showed that children learn concepts best in the language that is their primary language. A child who speaks Spanish at home and for whom English is a second language will understand math better if they first learn it in Spanish and later learn to translate the concepts into English words. Even if the child is proficient in English they will understand subjects better if they are taught them in their native tongue first.

“English Only” policies deny children for whom English is a second language an equal opportunity for success in the classroom. This is not something that only applies to undocumented immigrants. Any child forced to learn basic concepts in English when that is not their primary language will likely have more difficulties in understanding the concepts than the native English speakers even if they are English proficient. This basically means that they will have a permanent disadvantage whether they came to this country legally or not because someone felt that English must be the only language in the classroom.

The really sad thing in all of this is that this type of policy also lessens the exposure of the native English speaking kids to other languages. Study after study has shown that exposure to new languages and cultures in school helps students much in the same way as music and art do. Exposure to things beyond facts and figures such as language, music, art and sports broadens the minds of the kids making them more open to learning new things.

When you stop and think about it from a learning experience standpoint, “English Only” policies are extremely limiting for the students of all backgrounds. There was a time in America when kids were required to spend some time each week learning about music and art. Because of budget-minded bureaucrats that is mostly a thing of the past. And where has it gotten us as a society? Kids are more anti-social, more violent and less tolerant. You have twelve year old kids being arrested for shooting people because they had on the wrong colors. At what point do we decide that teaching tolerance and acceptance might be a good idea?

When you have a policy that tells children that any other language besides English is basically unimportant or lesser you are telling them that bigotry is OK. You are teaching them that one culture is superior to another. The logical conclusion from that is that one should be able to subjugate the other. If English is superior to Spanish then Spanish speakers must not be as good as English speakers. That is how kids interpret things like that. Their logic is simple logic and if one thing is true then the other must be as well.

The problem is that when you sow those seeds at a young age they take root and stick in the mind long after the lesson is over. Even when the student is later taught some semblance of tolerance there is still the little kernel in the back of their mind saying their language and culture are superior to others. “English Only” sends the wrong message to our kids and should not be a part of our society.


LJ Finstermore - World Citizen | E-mail Comments on this column. | Click icon to Digg this article

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Undocumented Workers in America - Real Problem or Convenient Scapegoats?

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Language in the Classroom - "English-Only" Policies: Right of Center View

The American identity is under attack. English, which has been the accepted norm in America for over 200 years, is becoming marginalized. Everyone seems to be intent to make Americans learn to speak Spanish and Chinese to accommodate people coming here from outside our borders. Why? Why should our children be forced to be “multi-lingual” to accommodate people that want to come here from abroad? It should be that the kids coming here need to learn English not that our kids need to spend valuable classroom time learning their languages.

Liberals are quick to call proponents of English-first policies “isolationist” and even accuse us of being bigots. Because we don’t want our kids to have their cultural identities as Americans swallowed up into a sea of multiculturalism we are seen as the bad guys. Nobody that I know is proposing that people coming to America should be forced to give up their native tongue but they should be required to learn the language of the land they are immigrating to. This country is an English speaking country. People coming here should be required to learn the language as a condition of residency. There should be a timeframe and benchmarks set for English language proficiency if people want to maintain legal residency and citizenship.

Now, as for “English-only” schools, that may not make sense. The non-English speaking kids need to learn English and there has to be somewhere for them to do it. That does not mean that the classrooms all have to be multi-lingual. There can be classrooms set up for the non-English speakers where they can learn English and the other subjects they need to learn. This is not to stigmatize the kids but rather to provide them the best opportunity to learn English while not getting behind the other kids in the other subjects being learned at their grade level. As their English proficiency grows they can be mainstreamed into the English speaking classrooms in a smooth transition that does not disrupt the learning process for the kids who started out proficient in English. It could be done in a similar way to special education programs that work toward mainstreaming kids while addressing their special needs, many of which are language focused.

America should welcome lawful immigrants but we also need to make clear to people wanting to come to America that this is an English speaking country. We want people to feel welcome in America but we also want people to respect our culture and traditions. There seems to be some idea floating around out there that promoting English is devaluing other languages. That is simply not true. You would not go to Mexico and expect them to teach in English in the classroom because Mexico is a Spanish speaking country. The same would be true of China or France or Germany or any other non-English speaking country. When Americans immigrate abroad they need to learn the languages of the countries they make their new homes. Similarly people immigrating to America need to learn English and not expect others to learn their native language.

The Realist - Patriot at Large | E-mail Comments on this column. | Click icon to Digg this article

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Undocumented Workers in America - Real Problem or Convenient Scapegoats?

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A Legal Immigrant’s Perspective

If you are not a Native American, you are an immigrant, so am I. I came legally to this country at the age of five with my parents who worked hard, paid taxes (even Jesus paid taxes), lived by the rules of this great nation and never took or accepted a penny from the government. We came seeking FREEDOM from a communist country. It was months before we were able to enter the US legally. I remember us getting medical exams, shots (small pox), background check, references, and going through numerous interviews once we arrived. I also remembered people coming to the US from all over the world who waited years since it was based on "Quotas". Read more...

Solving Our Immigration Problem

The major problem our country is facing with illegal immigrants today is because of the exploitation of these immigrants. We believe the solution to this problem is two-fold. First, we should allow more immigrants in this country to cut down on the number of illegal ones. Second, all immigrants should be educated about their rights at the expense of the government. Below, you will find an in-depth look at our suggested reforms.

Reforms for immigration limitations:

-New immigrants can't equal more than 1% of the US population in a given year (the population being from the last recorded census). That 1% will be further divided up to allow only a certain number of immigrants each month.
-Each country of origin for immigrants will be allowed a certain percentage of that 1%. No country could receive more than 10% of the total amount and no country can receive less than .1% of it. The left over percentage will be divided up between all countries as follows: Read more...

Do Elements Within the La Raza Movement Pose a Threat to America?

La Raza means literally “The Race” in Spanish. The movement was formed in 1968 to promote the interests of the Mexican-American community. Like the NAACP and other affirmative-action minded organizations, La Raza has many members that are interested in being part of America and promoting equality for all Americans. The fundamental goals as stated by the movement are benign and represent the ideals of American diversity and cultural pride.

There is another movement affiliated with La Raza that has historically been more militant and still maintains documents within their organization that point to isolationistic views Read More

A Plan

The one major thing that seems to be lacking in the immigration debate is a real plan that addresses the legitimate concerns with illegal immigration. There are strong opinions on both sides and a lot of rhetoric but there isn’t really any solid plan being promoted to address the illegal immigration issue in a way that is both fair and logical.

So, that being said here is my idea:Read More

Trucking Cross Borders

This is mainly a concern for the trucking business. If we allow these people to come into our country, bringing cargo that we in America have, and can supply, then we are saying that the American working people are not needed, and have lost all say to legally enforced DOT (Department of Transportation) laws.Read More



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