The Threat of Language

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The Threat of Language

America is a nation that promotes the image of diversity among its citizens. This diversity is what makes American unique and different from any other country in the world. As years pass the ethnic population of the United States grows at a rate comparable to the speed at which a bullet flies. With so many different cultures and languages coexisting within the boundaries of this nation, a question arises. Do languages other than English threaten American’s ability to unite socially, politically, and economically?

Richard Rodriguez is a perfect example of an immigrant that came to American with his family and didn’t know any English. Starting when he was a young child Rodriguez had a very difficult time making friends and feeling comfortable out in public. This was because he didn’t know how to communicate with people outside his home. Richard realized that the only way for him to break this social barrier was to be able to speak English like everyone else. Rodriguez was not just able to learn English but he also was able to gain his own individuality with out loosing his ethnic background. “The bilingualists insist that a student should be reminded of his difference from others in mass society, his heritage. But they equate mere separateness with individuality.” Rodriguez regained his individuality when he was able to communicate and express himself to the community in which he lived. With the tool of the English language under his belt Rodriguez was able to succeed and share with others his experiences and feelings.

Is it necessary for people of different cultures and languages to be able to speak English in order to succeed in America? Should their ethnic background be sacrificed in order to fit into American society? The U.S. Department of Education enacted the Lau decision to increase funding for bilingual education all over America. Many immigrants felt that this increased funding wasn’t helping to teach the children well enough. In one case a Chinese man in San Francisco complained that his children were at a disadvantage, both socially and economically because they weren’t being taught English adequately. The statistics are staggering regarding the success rates of minorities throughout high school and college. A report by the American Council of Education states that “50 percent of all Hispanic youths in America drop out of high school, and only 7 percent finish college.
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