English ONLY…not officially

There is movement, it’s been around for a while, that supports that anyone immigrating to the United States of America needs to learn to speak the language.  Our state has taken up the task to dutifully immerse non-English immigrated students in the English language.  At the end of the ONE year “instruction”, they are expect to not only be mainstreamed in the “regular” classroom, but to also perform at the same level.  Anyone who has been a second language learner knows that this is an almost impossible task to accomplish; though there are always exceptions.

Though I agree with the idea that it is imperative to have fluency in the language in which one lives by, I do not agree with the concept of the One Year English Only timeframe.  How long did it take for your child to learn how to properly speak and generate logic/grammatically sounded sentences?  At what point did you, as the parent or grandparent say, “That’s it Jonny, it’s been a year since you’ve receive instruction of language along with a zillion other new concepts.  It’s time for you to do it on your own.  If you don’t understand…don’t blame Mommy for that; you’re just being lazy!”?

You probably did not ever say that to your child.  Why?  Well, because you understand that language development is a process.  The Natural Approach states that language is learned or acquired in the L-S-W-R model, and that it is contructivistic.

Did you know that English is NOT this nation’s official language.  Some states have it as their official language, but as a nation, it is not official.  What do you think of the following fact?

The United States does not have an official language; however, the majority of the population speaks English (American English).  There have been several proposals to make English the national language in amendments to immigration reform bills. None of these bills have become law with the amendment intact. as a native language.  According to the official English advocacy group ProEnglish, 30 states have adopted English as an official language.

As I mentioned earlier, I do believe that people need to learn the language be “successfull” in communicating, acquiring customs, and smoothly transitioning into the targetted culture.  However, as an SLA learner myself and an educator, I disagree with the pressure being put upon children to acquire the language within the timeframe of ONE year.  Not only is the pedagogy failing in such task, but also, these students are set at an even greater disadvantage because they are not learning the other subject content standards as they are focused on “English Only”.

According to the National Review Online, Obama had something to say in this issue.

You know, it’s embarrassing when Europeans come over here, they all speak English, they speak French, they speak German. And then we go over to Europe, and all we can say [is], “Merci beaucoup.” Right?

You know, no, I’m serious about this. We should understand that our young people, if you have a foreign language, that is a powerful tool to get a job. You are so much more employable. (July 08,2008)


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. tlc4women
    Oct 09, 2008 @ 22:44:17

    It’s a little bit different in Europe when the countries are the size of states and the people inter-mingle more so then we do. Those of us in California know a little more Spanish, more than likely, than the average Wyoming citizen because of proximity.

    While I don’t think one year is enough of an immersion, neither do I agree with ESL classes that go on for years. I learned English as a second language and never had a special class. I was tossed in the deep end and learned to swim. There has to be a medium. I know youth who have been schooled their whole life in an American school and don’t have a solid command of either language. That is pitiful.

    I would love to have the European set up of learning a second language from the beginning of school. Honestly though with our educational system being what it is, I would love to just see us have graduates that can read past a fifth grade level and can spell.


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