Skip to comments.English for Immigrants
Posted on 05/13/2011 8:35:29 AM PDT by Kaslin
President Obama invoked immigrant assimilation this week in a speech in El Paso, Texas, praising the notion embodied in the motto E pluribus unum: out of many, one. But it wasn't all that long ago when many liberals eschewed the idea of America as having one language, one culture, and one people. Ironically, it has taken an anti-immigrant backlash to awaken at least some liberals to the dangers of multiculturalism, which they pushed aggressively for decades.
It was liberals -- not conservatives -- who originally claimed that today's immigrants couldn't assimilate, or, in their view, shouldn't even try. Liberals insisted that Hispanic kids, even those who were born here, be taught in Spanish and learn to revere their ancestral culture rather than to take pride in being Americans. The bilingual, multicultural approach became deeply imbedded in the public school curriculum, thanks to the efforts mostly of white liberals, with help from some college-educated, fully assimilated Hispanic activists.
The consequences were disastrous, especially for Hispanic children consigned to a second-class education in Spanish, which would not lead to college or economic success. It also caused resentment among those who rightly felt that other immigrants had willingly adopted English and that Hispanics should as well. But there were a few valiant voices arguing against bilingual and multicultural education, and none was more effective than Dr. Rosalie Pedalino Porter.
Porter's memoir, "American Immigrant: My Life in Three Languages" (Transaction Publishers) chronicles her struggle to end programs that segregated Hispanic students by language and ethnicity. Porter came to America from Italy as a child of 5, speaking not a word of English. She arrived when the United States was in the middle of the Great Depression, but her parents had relatives living in New Jersey who helped them find jobs.
Even the poverty of the Depression era was nothing compared to the bleak life they left behind in Italy. Like many immigrants of that era, Porter found school a welcome departure from the grinding duties of caring for younger siblings, preparing meals, and cleaning house that fell on the oldest child. She excelled in school and decided to devote her life to education.
Eventually, Porter would earn a Ph.D. in education and become director of a bilingual education programs in the Newton, Mass., public schools. It was her experience in the classroom that helped change her mind about what works -- and what doesn't -- when it comes to teaching new immigrants to speak English.
Porter quickly found that teaching youngsters in their native language actually slowed down their academic progress and eventually abandoned the approach. When she became a school administrator, she put her experience to action and transformed the school system's bilingual program, which drew the ire of state officials. She became a thorn in the side of bilingual educators around the country. At conferences, she spoke up whenever bilingual advocates made the ridiculous claim that the best way to learn English was to make sure students spent most of their day being taught in Spanish.
In 1990, Porter's first book, "Forked Tongue: The Politics of Bilingual Education," became the authoritative text on the subject. Since then, she has served as an expert witness in countless court battles on bilingual education, and the U.S. Supreme Court cited her work in its decision on Flores v. Arizona, which upheld English immersion as an acceptable method to teach non-English speakers.
She also became an activist, assisting immigrant parents in California, Arizona, and Massachusetts to get rid of failing bilingual programs in favor of more effective English immersion programs, all of which she details in her memoir.
It's no surprise that an immigrant would be the perfect foil for bilingual educators. Who better to understand that English is the gateway to opportunity in America? President Obama was singing the praises of English and assimilation for America's newcomers in Texas this week. But Rosalie Porter has been the choir leader on the subject for years.
I was on a layover in Miami a few years back and a TSA official was trying to tell me something. His accent was so thick I had to asking him to repeat himself.
I eventually just asked “were you born in this country?”
He got upset and the next thing you know I am pulled from line and all my bags hand searched.
I filed a complaint but you know how far THAT got.
Immigrants, or criminals?
Just showing up on this side of the border does not make you an “immigrant”.
The word itself, implies some sort of assimilation, contribution, and allegiance to your new home.
English for Immigrants = Gun
Of course it does. But if your sole motivation is economic, no such allegiance exists, or likely ever will.
A while back, somebody came up with a brilliant idea to take care of a whole slew of problems, at very low cost.
To start with, all over the US, libraries are dying because of budget cutbacks, but mostly due to a lack of visitors. If they could just get more patrons, many of them would survive.
Second, there is an enormous demand for English language instruction for all ages. Not just legal and illegal aliens, but many people who just need language instruction they didn’t get in public schools, which strongly holds back their employment and integration success.
Since most librarians are a mix of library science and English majors, they are quite qualified to teach English literacy and reading skills.
Many libraries often have large, but relatively unused and underused areas set aside as reading areas.
So why not combine all of the above? During normal hours, have language and reading classes for children, young adults, and older adults.
And one of the odd problems that is rarely addressed, is though people are taught to be more or less literate, they have no clue as to what books they might want to read. But they see endless shelves of books and are overwhelmed. So what they need is to be asked a simple question: “What would you like to read about?”
And then get recommendations from someone who knows books.
So what do we all get out of the deal?
First, we get to keep more of our public libraries. Second, we get more of the public who don’t understand English well the ability to better communicate with us. And third, those who need to be more literate can get better jobs and pay more taxes. So what’s not to like?
What I hate is the people with a heavy accent that call you to sell you something, or to say “somebody in this house may have a serious court matter”.
Or as happened to me a few weeks ago, some Hindu guy that asked for “Chesley”. Well that's me so I said, “you got him”.
Well, the next thing I know, he's dunning me for some bill, and as I knew nothing about such a bill, it got prretty acrimonious pretty fast. I hung up on him.
Danged if he didn't call back, telling me not to hang up or it would go to court.
OK, after a half-hour of my precious life span was wasted with the jerk, I figured out what the problem was. He had asked for “Shirley”, and I heard it as “Chesley”, and I couldn't convince him that we didn't owe any money.
I finally got rid of him, I thought, but since then I've received two other calls from people wanting to speak to “Shirley”.
I don't know who she is, or where she is, but I hope she gets away with not paying these buzzards.
"Hello my name is Peggy..."
>>Not to criticize, but you just HAD to know that would happen.<<
I did. I had a 4 hour layover so I figured I would poke a stick into the anthill to watch them all run around. And I was truly ticked off that it was somehow MY problem this guy couldn’t speak HIS native tongue (he said he was born here BTW).
>>Danged if he didn’t call back, telling me not to hang up or it would go to court.<<
Just as an FYI, FWIIW, IMHO (AS): The only proper way to end that conversation is with the words “see you in court” followed by the *click* of your phone hanging up.
But I appreciate what you went through. It is like getting mileage rewards from Peggy sometimes.
DANG IT! You beat my “Peggy” reference by a few minutes!
I hate this crap I had a guy aggravate the crap out of me over a Lady I knew 25 or 30 years ago, Trying to locate her I told him well I have located were you are and I am getting in my car with my baseball bat and I am coming to see you they never called again. Oh and they even called a neighbor of mine asked him to come ask me why I would not answer their calls ,that did it for me if they had not stopped I would have paid them a visit LOL.
...or poetry at the White House with common...
That's because he's dead serious about getting them all to stay, to register to vote, and to vota Democratica in 2012.
If he gets those 20+ million immigrants into the tent, where they'll be anchors for the next 50,000,000, the Democrats will have a lock on national office for the next 200 years.
That was the dream of Lyndon Johnson -- may he burn ever so brightly in hell.
The leftists do NOT want the immigrants to learn English, just as they want the inner city schools to serve only as “day care centers”. It is deliberate.
Yet there are corporations that are not headquartered in the Anglosphere where the language in the office is English - because that has become the de facto language of global business. You look at billboards in the Netherlands, Belgium, other countries - you will find in many cases English.