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When a government or nation recognizes the use of more than one language as a medium of contact within the country. In countries that accept this, one language is normally designated as the official language, implying that it would be used for official correspondence. Other languages may be used in teaching and studying, but they may not be used in official situations. The United States, on the other hand, is a one-language country that uses Standard English as its official language. This means that only English can be used in official capacities, as well as for teaching and studying. This, however, poses a big question as the USA is made up of many different groups of diverse people with different cultural backgrounds and who speak different languages be it immigrants or the minorities. This thus poses the question as to whether the USA should be a multilingual society in order to cater and provide for everyone’s cultural background. This progress on societies becoming multilingual has been seen all over the world and has had many positive impacts on the well-being of the nations. The emergence of mixed-race babies has acted as a unifying factor through which different cultures are merged and the child belongs to all the cultures and not one or the other (Linguistic society of America).
There has been a debate about this and a recent vote on bilingual teaching in California failed to pass implying the strong opinion held by the Americans on the position of English and that other languages should only come second to it. They are of the belief that teaching other languages to kindergarten children does not make sense and will only confuse them and rather prefer the proper tuition of English to their children (Rumbaut and Massey). A different opinion is however raised by different immigrants and minorities in which they blame English as being the sole language utilized being responsible for them forgetting their cultures and not wanting to be associated with them as they are made to feel inferior. This has made different reasons supporting or opposing this opinion. I am of the opinion that we should be a multi-cultural nation as it will create diversity and people can be able to embrace and learn from each other. A multi-cultural nation has a lot to offer. As in the case of individuals having to forget their native languages and learn English, it has been found to have devastating effects as compared to advantages. Throughout this essay, we shall see the thoughts brought about by different people of different backgrounds and their opinion on how it affected them and what the outcome would be if the conditions provided were any different.
Creates a Sense of Identity
According to Julia Alvarez, she had to lose her native language of Spanish and embrace English in order to fit in America after she moved here from the Dominican Republic. She was mocked in school and even pelted with stones by boys for speaking Spanish in the playground (Otero). According to her, she had to stop speaking Spanish and start speaking English in order to fit in. This however affected her as she found it hard to fit in whenever she went to holidays in her native Dominican Republic. They soon discovered that they had no connections and had forgotten a majority of Spanish words and it could even be hard to converse fluently in Spanish (Otero). I am in total agreement with this as culture is clearly an important aspect of life. It makes us who we are clearly defining our moral and attitudes.
The choice of English as the standard language to be used clearly has an impact on immigrants and people of different cultures as they are made to feel inferior. Many of these people adopt English in order to fit in which often makes them forget their culture as they embrace the American way of life. By embracing multiculturalism, we will be able to give all these diverse people an opportunity to truly embrace and be proud of who they are which will help foster integration as people will seek to learn from other cultures.
Teaching using Diverse Languages
Surveys carried out in various regions have shown that children of immigrants or the minorities have the highest school drop-out rates. An eighty percent dropout rate among Puerto Ricans in Boston and cases of Black illiteracy are among the reported cases which clearly show this discrepancy (Villanueva). According to Villanueva, he believes that bilingual teaching should be given a chance as it will help children of immigrants to slowly learn English as they are taught other subjects in their native language. I agree with his line of thought as this will help the children understand English better and will not slow down their education as they will progress normally. It also helps them retain their native culture which gives them a sense of belonging. I however strongly disagree with Richard Rodriguez who advocates for the melting pot theory which is responsible for linguistic assimilation. He believes it is a necessary process which though destructive at first finally creates a new and greater thing (Villanueva). In my opinion, this is a harmful method which rids the student a chance of embracing and developing their native language and their culture. It is even ironical as he was the child of immigrants which may go to show that his past may have an influence on this decision if it was not so pleasant. I believe that multilingual learning should be embraced as the children will learn the best of both worlds and will grow up to be diverse (Cavico , Muffler and Mujtaba ).
This is a very important aspect in communication and also an important requirement when one applies for jobs in international corporations. This is the ability of a person to speak two different international languages. This can be a key factor in giving our citizens an upper hand when applying for employment but can only happen when multilingualism is embraced. This will enable children of immigrants and minorities to develop their native languages and together with English will have a well-boosted CV (Goldthwaite, Bizup and Brereton). A bilingual method in teaching helps to make ways by which learning of English by children will be easier (Dorfman). This will help children develop ambidexterity when it comes to linguistics. Holding on of their first languages gives confidence and less scarring to the immigrant children as they learn English (Dorfman). Bilingualism also enhances integration and opening the country to other nations as it will be easier for people to move into areas where their native language is spoken and accepted which will enhance trade relations and even foster unity. In a nutshell, it is an indication of cultural sensitivity which tends to create an environment that emphasizes understanding, cooperation, and brotherhood all of which are factors that are essential for trade and collaborative activities that require peace and harmony such as sports and studies which often span across globes with the advent of the internet (Public.asu.edu).
I strongly stick to my opinion that the USA should become a multicultural nation that embraces the many different cultures and languages of different people. This should start by multilingual teaching in schools which will help strengthen the bridges by which children with different native languages can learn English. Multiculturalism has many benefits not only to immigrants but to the native citizens and the country as a whole. It is also the key to fostering international relations. I would, therefore, propose that measures and laws enhancing the acceptance of different languages in institutions and corporations. This should not, however, be used as an excuse for nepotism or racism but rather as a way of expanding our scope. Regardless of the views of scholars, there are certain truths that are tough to refute, one of which is the role of diversity in society. A well diverse society is often industrious and economically as well as politically due to the tolerance that is exhibited in the people and culture within it. Language is one essential means of exhibiting this diversity and from this perspective, the concept of a multicultural and multilingual nation is imperative.
Cavico , Frank J, Stephen C Muffler and Bahaudin G Mujtaba . "Language Diversity and Discrimination in the American Workplace: Legal, Ethical, and Practical Considerations for Management." Journal of International Business and Cultural Studies (n.d.): 1-39. Journal.
Dorfman, Ariel. If Only We All Spoke Two Languages. 24 June 1998. Web. 4 April 2017.
Goldthwaite, Melissa, et al. The Norton Reader (Shorter Fourteenth Edition). New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2016. Book.
Linguistic society of America. Language and Diversity. n.d. Web. 17 April 2017.
Otero, Alejandra . "Julia Alvarez’s Self-Discovery in Literature." 24 September 2010. mhlearningsolutions.com. Document. 19 April 2017.
Public.asu.edu. Bilingualism in America? . 19 April 2017. Web. 19 April 2017.
Rumbaut, Rubén G and Douglas S Massey. "Immigration & Language Diversity in the United States." MIT Press Journals (2013): 141-154. Journal.
Villanueva, Victor. "Whose Voice Is It Anyway? Rodriguez' Speech in Retrospect." The English Journal (1987): 17-21. Journal.
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