TESOL Responds to President's Address on Immigration, English Language

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Wed May 24 18:35:47 UTC 2006

For Immediate Release May 19, 2006

TESOL Responds to President's Address on Immigration, English Language

Alexandria, VA Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc.
(TESOL), a global education association representing more than 13,000
English language educators, issued the following statement in response to
President Bushs May 15 address concerning comprehensive immigration reform
and the U.S. Senate vote on May 18:  TESOL lauds the recent comments of
President Bush recognizing the important role that the English language
plays in the United States, and the role it plays for immigrants coming to
this country. There is no question that English is the common language of
the United States, and as the President said in his speech, English is the
key to unlocking the opportunity of America. However, TESOL opposes
measures such as the amendment approved by the U.S.  Senate on May 18 that
seek to preserve and enhance the status of English as the national
language by limiting government communications to English-only. With U.S.
Census figures showing that 92% of Americans have no difficulty speaking
English, and with English becoming the language of global communication,
it is in no way endangered or in need of preservation. Moreover, policies
that limit the governments ability to communicate with people who are
speakers of other languages will only divide rather than unite the
country, and could jeopardize the publics health and safety.

Immigrant adults do want to learn English, but have limited opportunities
to do so. While English language learners make up almost half of the 1.2
million students enrolled in federally funded adult education programs,
many programs across the country report long waiting lists for English as
a second language (ESL) programs, with waits up to months or even years
for space. The overwhelming demand for ESL programs far surpasses the
current supply. Enhancing English language learning will come not from
official decrees, but from committing resources to those programs and
services working directly with immigrants to help them learn English and
become U.S.  citizens. TESOL urges the President and Congress to affirm
their support for educators of adult English language learners and for ESL
programs by increasing federal funding for adult education, and thereby
increasing access to these critically needed programs. ESL educators and
programs are on the front lines in helping immigrants and others learn
English and become citizens. TESOL stands ready to work with the President
and the Congress in helping to enhance these opportunities for all new

Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. (TESOL)
700 South Washington Street, Suite 200
Alexandria, Virginia, 22314 USA
Tel. 703-836-0774    Toll Free: 888-547-3369   Fax: 703-836-7864 or

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