Recently the United States Congress has been debating whether or not to declare that English is the national language of the United States and that all instruction in public schools is in English. There is no question what the language of this country is, it is irrefutably English, it was the language of our Founding Fathers and the language that the Declaration of Independence was written in, as well as the United States Constitution. I resolutely believe that the United States Congress should make this declaration. There are of course other matters at hand with teaching English to non-English speaking people.
As we have seen in countries like Belgium and Canada, opposing language-speaking sides argue over what the official language should be. This has lead to enormous divisiveness in those countries and could lead to their splitting up into separate countries. This is particularly true of Canada where the French-speaking population of the province of Quebec is considering seceding from the rest of Canada, where most people speak English. The government of Canada has spent millions of dollars on bilingual education, which nevertheless has caused the polarization of society. According to a Canadian commentator, Fred Hamilton, it costs with about 30 million people 350 million dollars a year to maintain a satisfactory bilingual education system. It could cost the United States ten times that amount. Do we want our country to be divided as much as Canada is because of language? And in the case of Canada we are only talking about the division caused by two languages, namely, English and French, but if in the United States instruction is given in all languages other than English, then ten or more languages may have to be taught. Do we really want this to happen here?
Suppose everyone went to different classes everyday. For instance, the Chinese children go to their classes, the Russians to theirs, and Spanish to theirs and the English speakers go to their Standard English classes. What is going to happen to the relationship between different ethnic groups? They will just become farther and farther apart. This is what bilingual education is doing to our children, segregating the country. Haven?t you seen all those commercials about everybody being different and to get along, like on Nickelodeon? Well if we are split up so much we will not even know the other kids. If Congress finally declares that English be the official language, the country will become closer and racial discrimination will lessen, because everyone will be able to speak the same language. The only problem is teaching everybody English.
If good jobs and a nice lifestyle are wanted (you know, the American dream), good English has to be fluently read, written and spoken. A non-English-speaking person can?t just have the educational background and not know English fluently, because what would you be able to do to make a decent living. Therefore, learning English should be the main goal of all non-English-speaking people in this country. In bilingual education the children learn elementary studies in their language and are meant to convert them over to English, but normally they focus on the subjects and forget about learning English. According to the Federal Government?s Office of Bilingual Education, in the 1992-93 academic year, 2.7 million school children were classified as LEP, or ?Low English Proficiency,? out of a school population of 51.3 million. That is about five percent, but this figure grows every year. As a result many of these children will not end up with good jobs. We should avoid dumbing-down our citizenship standards and sustain the English proficiency. The only way to do this is by teaching English until the person knows it fluently, and only then can the person go into mainstream English classes. The best way to do this is by learning English half the day and taking normal classes like math and history, but in English, for the other half.
In the January 31, 1999 edition of New York Times Magazine, Nonna Yelan?s Russian class, Wang Ip?s Chinese class and Luisa Martinez?s Spanish-speaking classes are discussed. These are all bilingual education classes. In Nonna Yelan?s and Wang Ip?s classes, the children dive right into English and become fluent very quickly while learning subjects like math and History in English. In Luisa Martinez?s Spanish-speaking class, the children don?t learn much English, but learn elementary studies in their own language. This is in part because the Spanish-speaking children did not have as much education before as the Chinese and Russian did. The only way to handle this is by working harder on teacher English, not studies in their native language.
Only after the non-speaking person can fluently read, write and speak English they will have the opportunity to go to good Colleges and get good jobs. Therefore learning English is their main goal in school. The January 12, 1999 edition of the New York Times claims that 22 states have already made English their official language, hopefully more states will follow. Congress?s declaration will not only help non-English speaking people assimilate into English speaking culture, but will bring the country closer as a nation. We will not have problems like Canada and Belgium over our country?s language.