The United States lacks an official language at the federal law. Official English regulations grant the country the right of providing information and services in English only. Serious controversies surround the subject on whether the United States should have an official language. Some individuals feel that establishing a common state language is likely to violate civil liberties. However, supporter of the practice argue linguistic divisions hinder national unity, disintegrates economy and divides the country along ethnic boundaries.Consequently, a prominent argument highlights that establishing a national language provides an ultimate approach of ensuring unity. Instituting an official state language is important because it cuts along social-economic and political dimensions. The United States government should conduct research when establishing a state language. This makes it fundamental to examine the subject with the intention of highlighting both sides.
The need for making English the official language in USA
Establishing a common language is essential because the practice will promote trust and minimize racial hostility. Hayakawa in his article should English be the official language of the USA highlights potential of the practice in building trust and reducing racial clashes. For example the scholar presents a case of Japanese and Chinese who united by communicating through English. This explains the significance of developing a common language. This process makes individuals understand the basic principles that unite them. Furthermore, the practice will guide immigrants who join the American community on the essential values that they need to adopt to enhance harmonious coexistence. Hayakawa emphasizes the importance making English the official language in the United States by stating that the practice will send appropriate signal to the newcomers on the significance of learning English while making legislators preserve the customary policy of common language. The scholar explains that a common language is important in the United States because it would make immigrants abandon traits of race, native language, religion, and ethnicity to adopt a common culture. This is a calculative observation considering the fact that America is a country of immigrants. It is apparent that the community is likely to be live in disharmony when members of the population stick to their language and culture. IDEA argues that principles of coexistence demand a group to have common values that they believe to avoid clashes. Consequently, absence of a common model of communication is likely to create clashes among Americans. This highlights the need for defining the official language.
The opponents of English as an official language discredit the practice because of its effect on education. Hayakawa agrees that abandoning a bilingual education scheme may be detrimental, but believes that educators can devise other strategic interventions that can help them manage children who lack knowledge of English language. Hayakawa acknowledges that the bilingual system may provide the foreign students with the opportunity to maintain their native language. However, he feels that this practice is insignificant considering the future of the students especially in the America's work environment. The scholar wonders how the immigrant graduates who have low mastery of the English language can function effectively in the English-speaking country. This indicates that immigrants must prioritize learning English if they are willing to spend their lives in America. Consequently, it becomes apparent that education systems should emphasize English than other subjects.
Furthermore, America should define an official language because running multilingual government is challenging and expensive. Mujica in his article why the U.S. needs an official language observes that the bilingual education system alone cost citizens billions of dollars every year. This means that the American economy cannot support a multilingual state. The system would demand the country to incur costs for court and school translators, multiple document translations and multilingual voting ballots. This means that the country will be burdened during thriving economic periods. The scholar gives a practical example by noting that in 2002, the Los Angeles Country spent 15% of its overall budget in hiring multilingual personnel and printing election ballots. The America economy cannot withstand such pressures. This highlights the need for developing a unilingual government. Mayakawa is also worried of a multilingual government because he feels that using many state languages will make the government's policies clash.
Mujica support the need of establishing an official language in United States by noting that multilingualism will lead to disunited states. This detrimental approach may make the United States lose it authority. The scholar cites the case of Canada to highlight the harmful consequences of a multilingual society. Canada faces crisis over the language because policy makers fail to agree on the language of administration. For example, the Canadian government must sustain Quebec to establish order and maintain stability. This has led to the emergence of secessionist movements from English-speaking regions that claim that the government is favoring French speakers. Consequently, America should establish its official language to avoid such crisis.
The opponents of establishment of an official language argue that assimilating children into public society makes them lose their individuality. Consequently, they believe that the system should be discouraged to make persons maintain their individuality. This is a weak argument because making individuals speak a common language may not necessary make them lose their individuality. For example Rodriguez in his article Aria: A memoir of a bilingual childhood gives a clear account of how of this misinformed assumption. The scholar challenges the argument by noting that the group opposed to the idea of common language forgets that people are individualized in various ways. For example, when one experiences a diminished sense of private individuality through assimilation into public society, he or she achieves public individuality. Bilingualism discourages the idea of public unity because each person values his or her family language while ignoring others. Rodriguez affirms that the idea of bilingualisms simply entails reminding students constantly that they are different from others in the mass society. Consequently, the system promotes separateness because persons assume that they are unique than others. Establishing a common public language would address this challenge because the approach would make persons think as a community, but not as individuals.
Rodriguez observes that individuals considering themselves as members of the crowd can realize full individuality. For example, the scholar highlights that when he started thinking of himself as an American, he developed the courage of accessing the rights and opportunity essential for full public individuality. Rodriguez emphasizes that an encounter with the English language has changed his life considerably. However, he does not regret the changes in his private life because they have led to public gains. He argues that individuals who fear assimilation are filled with corrupt self-pity obsessed by the challenge of public life. Interestingly, these individuals encourage public separateness and underestimate the dilemma of persons who are socially disadvantaged. This indicates that making English an official language is essential because the practice will make individuals experience a positive change that will improve public association.
Detriments of establishing an official language in America
Making English, the official language in the United States is likely to cause serious effects on the education system and the entire society. In the article, let's not say Adio's to bilingual education, Rovira argues that the abandonment of the bilingual education model was a great failure for the United States. The scholar observes that denying students an opportunity of accessing bilingual education is not a merely a poor education decision, but also an infringement of their rights. In fact, the United States is a nation of immigrants who run to the country in pursuit of the American dream. English is the prime language that unifies all these immigrants. This indicates that the importance of the English language is indisputable. However, making the language mandatory in US is not justifiable because the practice fails to account for the diversity presented by the American community. It is apparent that immigrants need to learn English. However, this should be optional the same way other Americans have the freedom of deciding whether to learn a second language. Rovira affirms the significance of maintaining a multilingual community by stating that the practice prepares individuals for the increasing global integration while enhancing cognitive development and innovation. When individuals learn about others, they tend to appreciate them making diversity important within the society. Instituting a single official language will prevent American from enjoying its diversity.
Furthermore, Rovira observes that the opponents of the idea of bilingualism are affected by prejudiced assumptions about the system. The scholar indicates that learning English does not entirely mean abandoning one's language. This indicates that individuals can maintain their family language and still learn English. Making English, the official language is a biased opinion that is likely to complicate the lives of individuals who migrate to the United States. For example, immigrants with little knowledge of English are likely to face serious difficulties while pursuing their education in English-strict environments. Rovira insists that the introduction of new models of communication into the American language do not weaken the country's culture, but strengthen its organization.
Defining the state language is detrimental because United States cannot remain a monolingual Nation in a multilingual world. Rovira insists that developing a multilingual environment offers people an economic and political advantage while providing them with the opportunity of associating with individuals from different cultures. These ideologies align with the contemporary principles of global interactions. Consequently, emphasizing on English as the official language seems like an approach of isolating the United States from international fraternity. Furthermore, the practice equals the action of pressuring foreigners into learning the country's language. This practice does not uphold American's principle of democracy that may affect the country's reputation. Moreover, individuals who are unable or not willing to learn the language will break their relations with the country. This clearly highlights that the practice may be detrimental to the United States.
It is apparent that America needs to consider making English the official language. The benefits of establishing a state language outweigh the detrimental consequences emanating from the practice. Defining an official language will lead to establishment of a community which values common ideologies that will unify Americans. Furthermore, the practice will develop citizens who understand their roles in the individual and the community level. Adopting English as the official language will also enable the country avoid problems such as high cost of operations and ethic based crisis that are common in multilingual administrations. However, the government should devise strategies that check the possible negative consequences associated with the adoption of the policy. The country needs to be sensitive about the effect of the practice on the education system and maintain its principle of democracy in all its activities.
Hayakawa, S. Should English be the official language of the USA? Bilingualism in America.
International Debate Education Association (IDEA). Debate: English as US official language.
Mujica, M. Why the U.S. needs an official language.
Rodriguez, R. Aria: A memoir of a bilingual childhood.
Rovira, L. Let's not say Adio's to bilingual education. U.S. Catholic, 63 (11), 22.