Monday, September 10, 2007

Should Americans accommodate people who don't speak English?


1. US speech communities.

- 82% English native language

- 176 indigenous languages (Navajo, Samoan, Eskimo)

- total 337 languages (ex. 1 million Tagalog speakers)

2. Spanish

- 18 million native speakers in US

- ½ of these can't speak English well

- some native to Puerto Rico, New Mexico, etc

- most immigrants (legal & illegal)

3. English re. other languages

- most indigenous languages have official status somewhere (Navajo)

- historic communities (Pennsylvania Dutch, Cajuns, Puerto Rico)

- otherwise, controversial

- Should English be the official national language?

- Should gov't accommodate citizens who don't speak English?

- residents/ visitors?

- what accommodation is acceptable, what's unreasonable?

Discussion questions:

1. Do you have spouses, children or relatives living with you who don't speak English? What's their experience here like?

2. Should the US government provide free ESL classes?

3. Should public schools offer bilingual education? (bilingual education—children learn school subjects in their native language while also learning English)

4. Should legal immigrants have more language accommodation than illegal immigrants?

5. Should parents have the right to an interpreter when they meet with their children's teachers?

6. Should US citizens who don't speak English be able to vote in their native language?

7. Should every non-English language be treated equally? Do some deserve special status?