Obama is Right: U.S. People Need Spanish Lessons!

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Sat Jul 19 19:04:52 UTC 2008

 Obama is Right: U.S. People Need Spanish

July 18th, 2008 by *WILLIAM KERN*

When Barack Obama pointed out recently that Americans should - in their own
interest - teach their children Spanish or some other second language, many
were quick to pounce. But, not surprisingly, people in South America
wholeheartedly agree with him.

*Andres Oppenheimmer writes for El Periodico of

"The percentage of people in the United States who master a foreign-language
is pathetic compared to other wealthy countries. … Obama is right, although
it would've been nice if he himself spoke Spanish or some other language. …
a recent survey taken in 27 countries of the European Union revealed that 56
percent of Europeans speak at least one language apart from their native
tongue, which is an increase of 53 percent over five years ago."

 By Andrés Oppenheimmer

Translated By Halszka Czarnocka

July 18, 2008

Guatemala - El Periodic - Original Article (Spanish)

Recent comments by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, that
people in the United States [United Statesiens - see below] should teach
Spanish or some other foreign language to their children, brought an
avalanche of criticism from supporters of English as the nation's only
language and from anti-immigrant campaigns on cable television.

[Editor's Note: Latin Americans almost never refer to people in the United
States as Americans - since they consider themselves just as American as we
are. Instead, they use a different word, which is estadounidenses - which
roughly translates to United Statesiens].

But Obama is right. Whether it's Spanish or any other foreign language,
Americans are far behind the rest of the industrialized world when it comes
to mastering foreign languages.

In a speech in Georgia on July 8, Obama, answering a question about
bilingualism, said: "We live in a global world. And I don't understand
people who go around worrying about 'We need to have English only'. They
want to pass a law that would say 'We want English only'. Now I agree that
immigrants should learn English. I agree with that. But it is important to
understand this: instead of worrying whether immigrants can learn English -
they will learn it - you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish. You
should be thinking about how your child can become bilingual. We should have
every child speaking more than one language."

Added Obama: "It's embarrassing when Europeans come over here … They all
speak English, they speak French, they speak German. And when we go to
Europe, all we can say is 'merci beaucoup'. Right?"


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