Multilingual is always better than monolingual

From the New York Times:

Nashville Won’t Make English Official Language

Published: January 22, 200

Nashville voters on Thursday rejected a proposal to make English the city’s official language and largely to prevent government workers from communicating in other languages.

The proposal was introduced by Eric Crafton, a metropolitan councilman. It was opposed by a broad coalition including the mayor, civil rights groups, business leaders, ministers and the heads of nine institutions of higher education.

“The results of this special election reaffirm Nashville’s identity as a welcoming and friendly city,” Mayor Karl Dean said in a statement.

Mr. Crafton had said the policy would encourage immigrants to learn English and save the city more than $100,000 in translation and related costs. The policy allowed exceptions to its English-only rule for issues of health and safety.

Critics said the proposal would tarnish Nashville’s reputation as a cultural mixing pot and drive away immigrants and international businesses. They also accused Mr. Crafton of worsening anti-immigrant sentiment and wasting at least $350,000 of taxpayer’s money on a special election.

[ Full Article ]

I can see the reasoning behind wanting immigrants to learn English, but forcing it upon them is not the answer.  Immigrants in France must learn French because it is the official language, but France has always had an assimilation policy. The US has no official language because we prefer the “melting pot” idea. Keep your culture, keep your religion, keep your language! Learning English will obviously help with everyday life in America, but it is not what makes you American.

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  • http://davidsswamp.blogspot.com/ David

    Learning English is not what is gonna make you American, but not learning English is what is gonna make you a second-class citizen.

    Multilingual is good when it applies to individuals, I’m not so sure for a society when it means an assembly of various monolingual people that speak different languages.

    Davids last blog post..French Politics

  • http://davidsswamp.blogspot.com David

    Learning English is not what is gonna make you American, but not learning English is what is gonna make you a second-class citizen.

    Multilingual is good when it applies to individuals, I’m not so sure for a society when it means an assembly of various monolingual people that speak different languages.

    Davids last blog post..French Politics

  • http://cndrnh.blogspot.com/ CN Heidelberg

    I’m pleasantly surprised, given my previous and limited experience with Nashville! (What is so off-putting is the idea that it was done to prevent people from speaking another language with each other at work. It reminds me of a random German guy yelling at my husband and I to speak German as we walked down the street. I can speak German with Germans, but I’m not going to speak it with my own freaking native-English-speaking husband.)

    CN Heidelbergs last blog post..guest blog – germany toilettes and more………..

  • http://cndrnh.blogspot.com CN Heidelberg

    I’m pleasantly surprised, given my previous and limited experience with Nashville! (What is so off-putting is the idea that it was done to prevent people from speaking another language with each other at work. It reminds me of a random German guy yelling at my husband and I to speak German as we walked down the street. I can speak German with Germans, but I’m not going to speak it with my own freaking native-English-speaking husband.)

    CN Heidelbergs last blog post..guest blog – germany toilettes and more………..

  • http://toutesdirectionspourlafrance.blogspot.com/ L

    I read somewhere that it’s actually an Anglo-Saxon thing to not have an official language (Canada being the exception). England, Australia, the US, none of them have official languages. I find the different mindsets interesting: people will learn it on their own because that’s the only way to succeed, vs people are required to speak the language because that’s the language of our country

    Ls last blog post..Died laughing

  • http://toutesdirectionspourlafrance.blogspot.com L

    I read somewhere that it’s actually an Anglo-Saxon thing to not have an official language (Canada being the exception). England, Australia, the US, none of them have official languages. I find the different mindsets interesting: people will learn it on their own because that’s the only way to succeed, vs people are required to speak the language because that’s the language of our country

    Ls last blog post..Died laughing

Why is Jennie no longer in France?

I created this blog in September 2006 when I moved to France from Michigan to teach English. Many of the earlier posts are about my personal life in France, dealing with culture shock, traveling in Europe and becoming fluent in French. In July 2011, I relocated to Australia to start my PhD in Applied Linguistics. Although I am no longer living in France, my research is on foreign language pedagogy and I teach French at a university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling and being an American abroad.

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