Feedback on journalistic text Mastery of English

Francisco Gomes de Matos fcgm at
Tue Aug 23 11:39:41 UTC 2005

I have read the news item with great interest but
find the use of the verb FORCE  antithetical to
a human linguistic rights perspective. Why not
MOTIVATE, or ASK ?Forcing a human being to
learn a language  sounds  oppressive to me ...
Once in a while I come across such uses of
FORCE in materials for teachers . I imagine whoever
uses it  is not aware of the underlying authoritarianism...
Francisco Gomes de Matos

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Harold F. Schiffman" <haroldfs at>
To: "Language Policy-List" <lgpolicy-list at>
Sent: Tuesday, August 23, 2005 10:10 AM
Subject: Mastery of English

> >From The Enterprise,
> Mastery of English essential for grads
> If students flunk a test, do you get rid of the test or work harder to
> educate the students? The answer should be obvious, but there are still
> too many people making excuses for students who do poorly on tests. With
> more including Massachusetts requiring students to pass exams to graduate
> from high school, we need to do a better job of teaching students and stop
> making excuses.
> The Center for Education Policy has just released a study that says
> students who are immigrants fail to pass MCAS-type tests at a 30 to 40
> percent higher rate than students born here. The suggestion was that the
> tests were unfair to students for whom English was a second language.
> "Do we want a lot of high school students who don't have diplomas ...
> because they are still acquiring English?" asked one critic of the exams,
> language educator Deborah Short. What is the alternative? Give diplomas to
> students who haven't met the same standards as every other student? That
> is not acceptable.
> Short is absolutely correct when she says the failure to obtain a high
> school diploma limits opportunities in life. But school districts have to
> work harder to help these foreign-born students reach a higher level.
> Handing them a diploma and shipping them out into the world does a
> disservice to the students and to any potential employer who, in effect,
> is defrauded by the diploma the student has received.
> If it means keeping students back a grade, then so be it. If it means
> summer course and after-school instruction, those also should be
> considered. In fact, many school districts have such programs. The entire
> focus should be on giving all students no matter their first language the
> best education possible. Forcing a student to know the English language
> before he graduates high school is a requirement that will pay him
> dividends for the rest of his life.
> -- 
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