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.

Dr. Wagner has a PhD in Linguistics and is dedicated to learning and teaching languages online and abroad. She has studied in Quebec and Australia, taught English in France, and is currently based in the US.