Monday, February 21, 2011
English as an official language? Not in America.
This is a very sensitive topic. I have studied several languages in elementary school, high school and college. I continue to study language because communication is the number one tool of diplomacy. I am a Navy brat and I was also a Third Culture Kid. I studied Spanish in Spain because that is where I lived as a child. My school was a Department of Defense Dependent School, more commonly known by the acronym--as so many military things are: DODDS. I believe that the DODDS school system has some of the best ideas for making children and teens global citizens. Civics is embedded in the curriculum. We had a class called "Host Nation" and it exposed us to the language and culture of Spain. I became bilingual very quickly. I continued with Spanish and went on to learn French and Japanese. I was excited to see a job advertisement from Delta Airlines and was simultaneously appalled when I read that in order to apply, one must be bilingual in languages that have different writing systems such as Japanese, which alone has three, and a language such as Swedish, which has never been offered at my high schools or colleges. At a time when so many Americans are looking for work, is this fair? Who is most likely to speak these languages? I have had advantages in life because I lived overseas for the majority of my life, but some Americans do not have passports or an education system with such advantages. I have retained that ad from Delta and I have written an entire essay on why it should be revised. Large companies can send applicants to language schools--as the US military and other institutions do. English is arguably the most common language in the United States and it angers me that I would be required--emphasis on required--to speak another language in order to work in the U.S. Official languages are of a huge significance because some languages such as Hawaiian and Native American languages, were once illegal in the U.S. In order to preserve their cultures, the Constitution for the state of Hawaii has included Hawaiian as its official language. Writing is legally binding and such arguments should, I believe, be presented at the state and federal levels for reform. The Middle Class is dwindling in America. Corporations with large profits should not be exempt from hiring monolingual English speakers.