Your English-Only Mentality Is Damaging, So Please Stop

Your English-Only Mentality Is Damaging, So Please Stop

I'm #SorryNotSorry that you have to press one for English.

1068
views

"This is America! Speak English!"

From confrontational rants that go viral to movements to implement actual linguistic policy, a lot of my fellow Americans share this sentiment. Here's some reasons why I think English-only is so damaging.

1. Accessibility to services in different languages is an actual public health and safety concern.

In emergency situations, it's important that everyone knows what's going on. When I was studying abroad in Argentina, I came down with a gastrointestinal bug, which triggered vomiting and diarrhea. My host mom drove me to the local doctor. Now, I'm a Spanish major, and I was comfortable enough in my language skills to answer the doctor's questions. The doctor gave me an injection and she told me it would help stop the diarrhea. My host mom told me she had gotten it before, too, so that was good enough for me.

When I messaged my mom later about the situation, she told me I should've asked what was in that shot. I replied I didn't know how I could do that, or how I would even understand the explanation. Luckily, I got better quickly and didn't have to go to the hospital. What I want you to take from my anecdote is the following: Even though I spoke a decent amount of Spanish, I was not fully equipped to handle a health-related situation on my own. If I had had a more serious condition, or would've had to go to the hospital, I would have definitely needed an interpreter. The fear in these kinds of situations is already present; the fear that you won't even be to communicate important information doesn't need to be added.

2. Language is often a part of someone’s cultural identity.

We Americans who are native English speakers often take it for granted that English is widely spoken, even in other parts of the world. Thus, we don't necessarily "have to" learn another language, even if we travel. However, it is unfair to expect others to conform to our own language and culture for our own personal comfort, even if they are visiting or residing in our country. Yes, I agree that if that if someone wants to live and/or work in another country, it is in their best interest to learn the common language.

However, immigrants to the US already know it is to their social, professional, economic, etc. advantage to become proficient in English. Learning another language takes time, and our native language is still special to us. Language might make us feel closer to our family, our roots, our history, our religion and so on. Why would a person just "stop" using their native language upon learning another one?

3. How we view bilingualism is also tied to how we view race and class.

"Real" bilinguals do not necessarily 1. have equal and perfect knowledge of their languages, 2. speak with "no accent" or 3. have a bicultural identity.

Imagine an upper-middle class white family sending their daughter to France for the summer. The fact that she can utter some pretty-sounding sentence is, like, so cool, right? She's so cultured! Now imagine a working-class brown immigrant. His sometimes hesitant, "broken" English is not viewed in the same light, is it?

4. And finally, you aren’t always a part of the conversation.

U.S. lawyer Aaron Schlossberg yelling at Spanish-speaking employees.

Sure, if you're hanging around people who are all speaking a language that you don't and are basically ignoring you, it makes sense that you might feel excluded or that you're missing out on something. However, if two strangers in front of you are conversing about the weather in Swahili, why do you care? You aren't automatically entitled to know the content of other people's conversations. Even if you know a person and use English with them, they are fully within their right to use a different language with someone else, even if you happen to be nearby.

This is America, where we speak lots of different languages. So please, stop yelling because two people were speaking Spanish at the grocery store.

Cover Image Credit:

Wikimedia Commons

Popular Right Now

Changing Roles Of Women: Past, Present, and Future

How have the roles of women changed over the years?
11813
views

Women's roles in America are, like everything, forever changing. In the early 1900s their role was to do all house cleaning and "maid" work as well as being the prime parent to take care of the children.

A lot happened globally throughout the 1900s and their roles started to really take a change there. Because there was war going on overseas in 1914-1918, male adults were less active in the factories because they all had to fight in the war. For that reason, child labor increased rapidly. Since children were working in the factories, women didn't have to take care of them as much and they had more time on their hands as a result. In exchange, women started to make clothes, food, and cards to send to their fighting loved ones. Half way through World War I, Congress passed the law that allowed women to join the armed forces. So more than 30,000 joined and most served as nurses. During the Great Depression, women were forced to go back to working in the kitchen. When the U.S. had to enter WWII, women and men went back into war. There were three consecutive wars the United States had to push through (WWII, Korean, and Vietnam) and women as nurses were big help through those wars.

In the 1960s, adult females who lived through the Great Depression didn't have much money to go to school. So they made their own schools that provided a much cheaper education. This also lead to the standard approach towards current day public schools.

...Let's fast forward to present day...

In the modern day, the draft isn't as relevant as it was last century so men are now more commonly working in the states again. One reason why the draft hasn't happened since the Vietnam War, is because women are more interested than ever before to serve their country. Feminism is a popular topic among politics, social platforms, and even schools. Feminism is the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. One thing that women have received this past summer through their stand towards feminism is that they are required to sign up for the draft and Hillary Clinton has a big chance of becoming the first female president. Women are also more independent away from men in the modern day. It is more common now to find a woman to be single, taking care of a child, and having a full time job or going to school.

Looking in the future, I could see women getting a overall pay raise and becoming more and more prominent in politics. (Look at Hillary) But ladies, thank you for giving life to all of us. Mom, if it wasn't for your hard work, I don't know where I would be right now!

Thank you!

Quack

Cover Image Credit: J. Howard Miller

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

5 Holiday Gifts You Can Make On A College Budget Or Less

Yeah, I'm pretty sure I only have three quarters and a french fry at the bottom of my purse.

73
views

Spooky season has ended and Thanksgiving is upon us. It's finally November, and we all know that Christmas season is finally here. If you haven't listened to "All I Want for Christmas" by Mariah Carey yet, what are you doing with your life? While some are stressed about having the perfect Thanksgiving menu, let's be honest, the real problem is what you're getting your mom for Christmas.

I'm a broke college student and can barely afford to do laundry on a weekly basis. If you're in the same boat as me trying to find a way to survive the holidays, check out these five heartfelt gifts that will still mean a lot to your family and friends.

The Gift of a Letter

There's nothing like getting into the holiday spirit when you receive your first Christmas card in the mail. One way to cheer up your fellow family members or friends is to write them a meaningful note. Handwritten letters are a great way to show your love to others without having to buy materialistic items. If you want to put your own spin to this gift idea, think about writing "Read Me When" letters to your mom, dad, best friend, or significant other. These letters are a great way to stay in touch with family members and serve as a great reminder for "thinking of you".

The Gift of Teaching

Don't have the money to spend on an expensive gift? Think about sharing a valuable skill this holiday season. A good way to build relationships with others is by spending time with those you love. If you are really good at playing piano, think about offering lessons to someone that is interested in music. Teach someone how to paint, skateboard, or crochet. Whatever you're good at, look at it as an opportunity to share what you love with who you love.

The Gift of a Favor

All of us need a break sometimes, and what better way to help someone out than during the Christmas season? If you enjoy babysitting or dog sitting, offer to take care of children or pets as a way to give back. Parents and neighbors will greatly appreciate a night without the responsibility of having to cater to someone else every minute of the hour. If babysitting isn't your thing, think about raking leaves or washing cars to help a fella out.

The Gift of Listening

Next time a friend needs someone to talk to, lend them an ear to share their story. We often take for granted the number of opportunities we have to learn from others. Take some time to listen to others and give them your whole attention. Stay away from distractions and get to know them. You'll never know what you'll learn about someone until you spark a conversation.

The Gift of Memories

Now, this one may add a little more time and thought than the other gifts, but memories serve a big factor for the Christmas season. If you have printed photos from throughout the year, use an old frame to create a memory album for family or friends. Photos are great reminders of past experiences and good memories. I will always favor personal gifts over materialistic items. The gift of a memory is unlike any other.

Related Content

Facebook Comments