Thursday, December 20, 2007

Culturist Thought of the Day - Language in the Post Office

Today I mailed a complimentary copy of culturism to ANTI-CAIR. The nearest post office is in a Chinese area of New York, and the workers there speak to their clients in Chinese and English. This is not a great evil, but it has destructive implications.

I have spent years of my life in countries where English was not the Lingua Franca. Learning a second language is efficiently motivated and fostered by the need to do small tasks. Were I in another country - where there would never be a translator - I would practice my words related to mail room situations before entering. That was easy because textbook chapters usually reflect some common situation and the words associated with it. One chapter will be about airports, another schools, another post offices, etc. Sending one even if you don't have to is an excellent way to practice the chapter lessons.

The implications of this post-office policy can be seen in the Los Angeles Unified School District. In that district it is difficult for a monolingual English speaker to get work as a teacher. It is very difficult to become a monolingual Principal. This causes resentment among people who see language stipulations as a "gringos need not apply" policy. Cultural maintanence programs that do not encourage learning English further balkanize our nation. I understand that it helps Principals and teachers communicate with their students and parents. But it also lessons the pressure for immigrants to learn English. Not requiring Spanish skills to teach in America would teach the very real lesson that to fully participate in the American system and economy, you need to learn English. Our unity, and quicker learning, are better fostered by making sure learning English is the target.
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