You and I know that children — thank goodness! — are remarkably adaptable. Indeed, the younger they are, the more adaptable they are. It’s for this reason that pricey private schools and public schools in wealthy communities offer foreign language classes to the kindergarten set, rather than waiting, as they used to do in the old days, until the kids were in high school before exposing them to another language. You and I also know that the best way to learn a language is to be immersed in it. Those old high school classes didn’t work very well because we got grammar drills three times a week, instead of spending hours and hours surrounded by that language. Take the same high school kid and ship him off for a year abroad in Spain or France or Italy, and he’ll be chattering like a native in months.
You and I know all this. Liberals, however, while they grasped it for their own lily-white children, with ever more enrichment programs, stubbornly refuse to believe that the same might hold true for people of browner complexions. Hence, the insanity of bilingual education, which might have started as a humane way to ensure that a child wasn’t totally abandoned in a strange country, but morphed into a vast industry that prevented Hispanic children from ever coming into contact with the English language — all for the children’s own good, of course.
Given this mindset (“my little white children can learn a new language, but I love your poor little brown children so much I’m going to make sure they never get the chance to try”), I wonder how many of these educationally insane liberals are going to read and understand the latest study about immigrant children and English:
Most children of Hispanic immigrants in the United States learn to speak English well by the time they are adults, even though three-quarters of their parents speak mainly Spanish and do not have a command of English, according to a report released yesterday by the Pew Hispanic Center in Washington.
Only 23 percent of first-generation immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries said they spoke English very well, the report found. But 88 percent of the members of the second generation in Latino immigrant families described themselves as strong English speakers, a figure that increased to 94 percent for the grandchildren’s generation.
To which I say, in my best English, “Well, duh!”
Interestingly, the New York Times spins this report, not as a blow to the anti-assimilation bilingual education cadre, but as a blow to those who are opposed to illegal immigration. They don’t seem to get that there is a difference between legal and illegal immigration, with the language debate having nothing to do with the latter issue.
Additionally, the Times-ites don’t understand that, as to legal immigrants, this study supports those who are opposed to government policies that keep all immigrants, legal and illegal, from assimilating into American society through that most basic tool of assimilation: the English language. Indeed, just recently, people who believe in language as an important vehicle for immigrant aid were appalled that Nancy Pelosi allied herself with the Hispanic caucus and the EEOC to force the Salvation Army to stop its quaintly antiquated policy of requiring English language skills for holding a job:
In March the EEOC sued the Salvation Army because its thrift store in Framingham, Mass., required its employees to speak English on the job. The requirement was clearly posted and employees were given a year to learn the language. The EEOC claimed the store had fired two Hispanic employees for continuing to speak Spanish on the job. It said that the firings violated the law because the English-only policy was not “relevant” to job performance or safety.
“If it is not relevant, it is discriminatory, it is gratuitous, it is a subterfuge to discriminate against people based on national origin,” says Rep. Charles Gonzalez of Texas, one of several Hispanic Democrats in the House who threatened to block Ms. Pelosi’s attempts to curtail the Alternative Minimum Tax unless she killed the Alexander amendment.
The confrontation on the night of Nov. 8 was ugly. Members of the Hispanic Caucus initially voted against the rule allowing debate on a tax bill that included the AMT “patch,” which for a year would protect some 23 million Americans from being kicked into a higher income tax bracket.
After testy negotiations, the Hispanic Caucus finally agreed to let the tax bill proceed after extracting a promise from Ms. Pelosi that the House will not vote on the bill funding the Justice and Commerce Departments unless the English-only protection language is dropped. “There ain’t going to be a bill” with the Alexander language, Mr. Baca has told reporters.
Incidentally, if you want to see what happens when a government engages in policies that prevent its immigrants from assimilating, just check out what’s going on outside of Paris (riots, incidentally, that Sarkozy seems to have quelled thanks to an aggressive response). All of the MSM outlets are waffling on about how not enough government money is flowing into the banlieus, but you and I know that not enough French/Western culture and too few Judeo-Christian host county values (assuming Europe has any left) are flowing in — and one of the ways in which they flow is on language’s back.
Incidentally, regarding values and language, I will remind you that ivory tower types love to point out that the Inuit language has practically a gazillion different words for snow. Language very much reflects value and culture — something George Orwell pointed out with startling clarity in 1984.