“We live in this fog of political correctness, where everything is perpetual deception.”
- John Hagee
> “We live in this fog of political correctness, where everything is perpetual deception.” - John Hagee
I’m opposing political correctness by refusing to use the deceptive term that its supporters use (’English Only’). ‘English Only’ flatly contradicts the provisions of all the major proposals, and the traditional practice in the United States. Proposals that English be the official language of the government and of the public schools, and the common language of the American people do not imply that Americans can’t know other languages in addition to English. That’s why I prefer ‘Official English’, ‘U.S. English’, ‘ProEnglish’, or ‘English First’.
If you have the time to discuss this in greater detail, I'd like to learn more about the situation in Arizona. I'm a non-Hispanic on the opposite side of the country in South Carolina, but I've also lived in Miami, Denver, studied Spanish in Mexico and Spain, and taught Spanish for a few years, decades ago.
I found a copy of Arizona's Proposition 203, English Language Education for Children in Public Schools, which was approved in 2000. (Here's another copy without so many paragraphs in all caps, ironically a bilingual version from Canada.) It specifically states "Foreign language classes for children who already know English shall be completely unaffected..." That means it's not English Only even for the public schools.
I oppose bilingual programs for immigrants that stretch out for many years. Setting up such tracks for Spanish speakers may impede their learning of English, and in effect serve to institutionalize Spanish as an alternative in this country to English. I favor a relatively quick transition, but not an immersion in English in which all reference to Spanish is forbidden. I notice that the Arizona law provides for a one-year “sheltered immersion” in English (”Although teachers may use a minimal amount of the child’s native language when necessary...”). That sounds fine. Whatever the conditions, though, quickly teaching persons who speak one language to speak and read another won’t be easy.
I have some experience with this from the other side, teaching Spanish to English speakers. I did my practice teaching in a high school that used immersion in Spanish in its beginning Spanish classes. Even with carefully prepared materials, relying on pictures and pantomime doesn’t work very well for some ideas. Occasional words in the other language can be helpful.
For instance, how do you get across the idea of ‘idea’ itself? That’s not easy. Yet in English and Spanish the words have the same origin and are spelled exactly the same way (just pronounced differently). It can be taught in seconds to a person who already understands it in one language by a quick reference to that.
I like the basic thrust of the Arizona proposal, and the attempt to make a relatively quick transition, just so the reliance on English isn’t enforced in too doctrinaire a fashion.