Saturday, 26 July 2008

Fox and chickens

Dirk touched on the fraught subject of the teaching of Spanish in American schools, resulting from the number of illegal Latino migrants in the States. I could not disagree more, so I'm going to engage in an exercise of putting the fox in amongst the chickens and wait to see the feathers fly.

As you know by now, I am Dutch, and was taught 4 languages at school - Dutch, English, German and French. Dutch being a minority language in greater Europe, this makes sense. I think that it is beneficial to anyone to speak more than one language, as it creates greater opportunity in the world at large. Spanish is spoken by many of the residents of the American continent (both South, Central and North), and represents a rich cultural heritage. Who has not heard of Cervantes' Don Quixote, or Picasso's Guernica?

I feel that English speakers should drop that arrogance that you only count if you can speak English, and the rest does not count. Don't forget that there are more Chinese speakers (1,200 million) for a start. If your children can speak Spanish, at least they are able to communicate with more people, who are there in the US whether you like it or not. Here in Europe, we also have problems with illegal immigration, but don't go all xenophobic over it.

Please don't forget that if you ostracise a sizeable section of your community, you start to tally up problems that will come back to haunt you in the future. It happened in Europe in the 1950s and 60s, when "temporary" migrant workers were attracted from the Mediterranean (Morocco and Turkey e.g.), who were not invited to integrate into society. The migrants are still there, 40 to 50 years later, not speaking the local languages, and a fertile breeding ground for religious extremism.

Mr Obama at least had the sense to realise that, and if the Hispanics cannot learn English (because they are ostracised from and by society), well, the English speakers will have to come the other way. As the Muslims say, if Mohammed cannot come to the mountain, the mountain will have to come to Mohammed.

12 comments:

  1. Good morning, Guido,
    Another welcome back!  I'm glad to see you back.  Thanks for the link to my journal - I appreciate it.

    The point I was making is why the U.S. is catering to just ONE group of immigrants.  Never before in history has there been such a demand to learn THEIR language so they do not have to assimilate and become Americans.  Whether legal or illegal is not the issue here.  There are plenty of legal Hispanic immigrants who are no more interested in becoming Americans than the proverbial "man in the moon."  Instead of assimilating as immigrants for generations have done, entire geographic regions are being turned into extensions of their country, primarily Mexico.  There are entire areas where billboards advertising American businesses cannot be read at all unless you are Spanish-speaking.

    What amazes me is that when anyone says anything about having the same expectations from the Hispanics as has been expected from ALL other immigrant groups, then that person is labelled a racist, bigot, intolerant, and just about any other derogatory name you can think of.  Why Hispanics enjoy such immunity is beyond me, and German, Jewish, Chinese, Japanese, French, and any other immigrant group should be and are outraged.

    cont'd

    Dirk
    http://journals.aol.com/tsalagiman1/the-first-amendment-not-politi/

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  2. What Obama was proposing was not being bi-lingual just for self-betterment.  I've always believed that a foreign language should be taught in school.  Even if one never uses it, it's just a matter of self-improvement.  However, Obama wants children to learn Spanish, not for the purposes of better education (and God knows we could sure use it here in the U.S.), but to continue the favoritism and accomodation of one specific group of immigrants so they don't have to learn the language of the country. It's not about having more creating greater opportunity for our children.  It's just so that by the time they graduate from high school, they will be able to conduct everyday business in the U.S.  Many don't believe this will happen here. It's already happening.  I have been in a number of American owned stores where I was unable to do business because the sales clerk, cashier, or whatever was unable to speak English. Obama only mentioned other languages as a sidebar because he saw how well what he said was NOT going over.

    This is not about ostracizing this particular group of immigrants.  It's about having the same expectations as everybody else.  It's not about the Hispanics not being able to learn English.  Those who are interested in becoming Americans ARE learning English.  There are many, many places where English can be learned free of charge.  We have many who are doing so.  There is absolutely nothing arrogant about expecting incoming immigrants to ANY country to learn the language.  It's unrealistic to expect the residents of any country to have to learn second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, languages just so these immigrants won't have to.

    cont'd one more time!

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  3. I don't see anyone from the left or in our government as a whole proposing we learn any Native American languages so that our children can communicate with more people.  I don't see any of these people insisting we learn Chinese, Japanese, German, or any other foreign language for this purpose.

    Just one last point here - are any of the Spanish-speaking countries insisting on their residents learn English because of the numbers of English-speaking people coming in to live and/or to business?  Absolutely not, so I don't see why we're the only ones being expected to do so.

    Sorry for the long length.  I couldn't shorten it anymore.  Thanks for reading and commenting.  I really appreciate it!  Hope you have a great weekend and again, it's so good to have you back!

    Dirk
    http://journals.aol.com/tsalagiman1/the-first-amendment-not-politi/

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  4. Does the reason why really matter?

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  5. You sure have set the Fox among the Chickens Guedo ! I have written a coment on Dirks journal to the effect that after listening to the Obabama speach I can only think the man is right and that Spanish should be taught as a second language and unless I am mistaken that is what the guy is saying...perhaps the hispanic fear over there is similar to the one brewing here over Islamics??  where is it all going to end. God alone must know but I can't for the life of me understand people becoming more and more intollerent  wonder how this will go ! Love  Sybil x

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  6. When I go down to Mexico, I find many of my husbands' cousins are learning English in school.  Between my jumbled Spanish and their jumbled English, with a little mime thrown in, and we get by.  I'm all for knowing as many languages as your brain can hold.

    ~Amy

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  7. I agree with you Guido. It's nice to be able to speak a second language. I'm the only English person at work on my shift, I have Brazilian, Portuguese, Bulgarian, Polish, Turkish, Columbian, Peruvian, Spanish and even a girl from Cape Verde working for me. I've learnt a few words of Brazilian to make it easier to talk to staff. I'm not at all xenophobic and welcome the diversity these people bring. it also gives me insight into their countries so I can decide where to go on holiday next! Lol! We're not different races, we're all the human race so lets get on and welcome each other to our countries! Jeannette xx  

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  8. uh..lol... ok I promise not to go xenophobic on you lol!
    big smile
    nat

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  9. helmswondermom28 July 2008 at 06:42

    My comment is too long to put here, so instead of breaking it up, I'm just going to post it in an entry in my journal.
    Lori

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  10. Well, I had better add my 2 cents before it drops in value. (he he)

    I fully intend on introducing a new language to my children around 4 years of age, and I plan on teaching them French.  In the studies I have seen, the grasping and implementing of French-specifically-delve into other areas of the brain and help children to become more literate, more artistic, and more linguistic.

    Uh.

    I think.  Or maybe that was Mandrin?

    Just kidding.

    God bless-
    Amanda
    http://iammommy.typepad.com
    P.S.  Great comments all... and I always appreciate Dirk's perspective.

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  11. I don't mind them teaching Spanish in American schools; I think it is good to know a second or third or fourth or however many languages a person wants to learn; it is good to speak more than one language

    however, living in Southern California where there are a lot of immigrants, I would like those immigrants to at least make an attempt to learn English. I feel for them; I really do. I know they come here looking for a better life and I can appreciate that, but to always have to rely on translators to help them get their basic needs met (doctor visits, etc), its got to be hard for them. I think they should welcome the opportunity to learn the language of the country they would like to be a resident of

    just my opinion

    betty

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  12. I have no problem learning a second language, in fact I think it would be quite interesting to learn to speak French, German or perhaps Italian.  What I resent is the fact that Spanish is being rammed down our throats.  I don't hear anyone asking that citizens learn to speak any of the other countless languages citizens of the US speak.  We have plenty of Italian speaking folks around, many in my area....nobody is suggesting we all learn to speak Italian to make their lives easier.  It's funny to me that the people who own the Italian resturant I frequent have learned to speak (broken) english but have made an attempt which I appreciate. The don't expect the world to help them fit in, they have worked TO fit in.  I will be more than happy to learn another language but I can assure you it won't be spanish.  
    No feathers flying here ;)
    Lisa

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