Insistence on 'English only' dulls competitive edge

Don Osborn dzo at
Sun Jul 13 14:58:03 UTC 2008

How about a policy that *requires* valedictory addresses to include a very
brief passage in a language other than English? Presumably one that the
student has (some of) from classes and/or heritage. (Of course with a
translation, which is simply a matter of courtesy .) The object being to
call attention to the importance of learning a second language.



From: owner-lgpolicy-list at
[mailto:owner-lgpolicy-list at] On Behalf Of Harold
Sent: Sunday, July 13, 2008 8:02 AM
To: lp
Subject: Insistence on 'English only' dulls competitive edge


Insistence on 'English only' dulls competitive edge


By Ruben Navarrette

July 12, 2008

San Diego Union-Tribune 

The language wars flare up whenever insecure Americans worry that English is
becoming passé. It's a cultural paranoia that is laughably off the mark.
According to research, children of immigrants stand a better chance of
losing their native language and speaking only English than never learning
English at all. Still, it's a fear that is resistant to facts. I ought to
know. I've seen it up close. Twenty-three years ago, the night I graduated
from high school, one of my co-valedictorians wrote into his speech a single
sentence welcoming his grandparents, who had traveled to the United States
to attend the ceremony. The sentence was in his grandparents' native

The night before, at the eighth-grade graduation across town, a young girl,
another valedictorian, did something similar. She included a single sentence
thanking her parents - in their native language - for their support.

The line in the high school speech was in German; the one in the speech for
the junior high school was in Spanish. Guess which speech caused a fuss?

A few days before graduation, the junior high principal tried to pressure
the student to remove the line in Spanish, because he was afraid those in
the audience who didn't understand Spanish might feel uncomfortable. It was
probably more likely the principal was afraid he'd get angry phone calls
that might make him uncomfortable.

The girl stood her ground. And the principal backed down.

Conversely, no one said a word about the line in German, even though - in a
town that was then about 70 percent Latino - it's a safe bet that there were
more people in the audience who didn't understand German than Spanish.

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