The Importance Of Multilingualism In America

The Importance Of Multilingualism In America

Dedicated to everyone a part of the "English-only" movement.

Having grown up in a Puerto Rican household, the Spanish language was frequently spoken between my family members. I understood all that I heard, but my ability to communicate fluently in Spanish was minimal. Once I entered high school, I decided that I wanted to further my education and knowledge of the language I was accustomed to hearing by taking Spanish courses. After four years of having studied Spanish, my appreciation for not only the Spanish language but all languages grew immensely, making me feel privileged to be able to call myself bilingual. I knew that by being able to communicate in another language, I was immersing myself in a world of culture like none other. I, myself, was opposing the bigoted English-Only movement in America

Early English-Only Movements

Since the early 1750s, there have been disputes of whether or not the American people should communicate in English only. Beginning in Pennsylvania when British settlers began to resent the speaking of the German language in their colony, American nativists sought to discourage multilingualism in America. During the time period, this unpopular notion of an English-Only America was later emphasized in 1780 by future president, John Adams. After the United States acquired French-speaking populations as a result of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the dominance of the French language in Louisiana caused concerns in Washington. Up until the Civil War, Louisiana continued to operate bilingually - English and French - and the publication of documents in French was deemed as a practical necessity. Following the Mexican-American War in 1848, the United States acquired roughly 75,000 Spanish speakers, expanding the diversity of languages spoken in the United States. The eradication of minority languages expanded even more in 1907 when President Theodore Roosevelt claimed that "[w]e have room for but one language in this country, and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, of American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding house." Since then, many English-Only groups and organizations have formed in the United States. These groups advocate English as a similarity that unites us, compared to multilingualism that differentiates and divides us.

Modern English-Only Movements

While English-Only campaigns across the nation have targeted various non-English-speaking groups, Spanish-speaking immigrants are the most targeted this day in age.

A common misconception is that immigrants, particularly Hispanic immigrants, do not want to learn English. That is false. The truth is that immigrants know they should learn English in order to succeed. In 2015, 33.2 million Hispanics in the United States were proficient in the English language. Although English proficiency continues to rise, one-third of Hispanics still do not English very well.

Most recently in the English-Only movement, President Donald Trump removed all Spanish-language content from the White House website in order to make it an "English only" site.

Since the 1980s, 31 states have declared English as their official language. If English were to ever be declared as the official language of our nation, the rights of individuals with limited English proficiency would be abridged.

Multilingualism is extremely beneficial for a society. Research has proven that the ability to speak two or more languages improves mental performance. Multilingualism also helps to create job opportunities in today's society. Besides becoming more intellectually and socially advantaged, multilingualism allows citizens to become more globally competent. A multilingual mind is one that will allow you to succeed in any environment.

It is time for us Americans to change the way immigrants are perceived in our country. Our great nation that we live in today was not solely founded on the language of English, but Spanish, French and German. It is of utter importance to keep the languages of Colonial America and Modern America alive. The United States has no official language. The English language in America is not threatened. The unity of Americans has never been determined by the language we do or do not share, but by our political and social ideals. The importance of multilingualism in America lies in the value of seeing different perspectives and moving us toward becoming a better society.

Cover Image Credit: BT

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.


To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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Saying You "Don't Take Political Stances" IS A Political Stance

All you're doing by saying this is revealing your privilege to not care politically, and here's why that's a problem.


I'm sure all of us know at least one person who refuses to engage in political discussions - sure, you can make the argument that there is a time and a place to bring up the political happenings of our world today, but you can't possibly ignore it all the time. You bring up the last ridiculous tweet our president sent or you try to discuss your feelings on the new reproductive regulation bills that are rising throughout the states, and they find any excuse to dip out as quickly as possible. They say I don't talk about politics, or I'm apolitical. Well everyone, I'm here to tell you why that's complete bullsh*t.

Many people don't have the luxury and privilege of ignoring the political climate and sitting complacent while terrible things happen in our country. So many issues remain a constant battle for so many, be it the systematic racism that persists in nearly every aspect of our society, the fact that Flint still doesn't have clean water, the thousands of children that have been killed due to gun violence, those drowning in debt from unreasonable medical bills, kids fighting for their rights as citizens while their families are deported and separated from them... you get the point. So many people have to fight every single day because they don't have any other choice. If you have the ability to say that you just don't want to have anything to do with politics, it's because you aren't affected by any failing systems. You have a privilege and it is important to recognize it.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "history will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

We recognize that bad people exist in this world, and we recognize that they bring forth the systems that fail so many people every single day, but what is even more important to recognize are the silent majority - the people who, by engaging in neutrality, enable and purvey the side of the oppressors by doing nothing for their brothers and sisters on the front lines.

Maybe we think being neutral and not causing conflict is supposed to be about peacekeeping and in some way benefits the political discussion if we don't try to argue. But if we don't call out those who purvey failing systems, even if it's our best friend who says something homophobic, even if it's our representatives who support bills like the abortion ban in Alabama, even if it's our president who denies the fact that climate change is killing our planet faster than we can hope to reverse it, do we not, in essence, by all accounts of technicality side with those pushing the issues forward? If we let our best friend get away with saying something homophobic, will he ever start to change his ways, or will he ever be forced to realize that what he's said isn't something that we can just brush aside? If we let our representatives get away with ratifying abortion bans, how far will the laws go until women have no safe and reasonable control over their own bodily decisions? If we let our president continue to deny climate change, will we not lose our ability to live on this planet by choosing to do nothing?

We cannot pander to people who think that being neutral in times of injustice is a reasonable stance to take. We cannot have sympathy for people who decide they don't want to care about the political climate we're in today. Your attempts at avoiding conflict only make the conflict worse - your silence in this aspect is deafening. You've given ammunition for the oppressors who take your silence and apathy and continue to carry forth their oppression. If you want to be a good person, you need to suck it up and take a stand, or else nothing is going to change. We need to raise the voices of those who struggle to be heard by giving them the support they need to succeed against the opposition.

With all this in mind, just remember for the next time someone tells you that they're apolitical: you know exactly which side they're on.


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