Wednesday, January 21, 2009

let them learn english

One of my good friends, Jude, (how many posts have I started that way?), is currently on the job hunt. She let me know that many of the job ads out there specify that employers are looking for Spanish speakers.
I personally took French in school, and can barely count to 12 in Spanish.
When a middle-aged Latino woman hit my car in the parking lot recently (ok, I'll admit it - I hit her car), she had to put her husband on the phone to translate our conversation.
And while I try to be understanding that some of the guys behind the corner store counters have recently arrived to this country and haven't yet had a chance to learn English - I can't help but feel frustrated when they don't understand when I ask for "the new US Weekly".
Listen, I love Salma Hayek and Eva Longoria (and especially Mario Lopez), so this isn't a 'Latino' rant - and I'm definitely not anti-immigrant (particularly considering that my own parents came over to this country on a boat - well, a plane).
But isn't learning the language part of the whole 'moving to a new country' experience?

21 comments:

frumpunk said...

You just have to learn the essential phrases to make life easier:

US Weekly revista, por favor.

Then say:

Gracias. Espero que nunca encontrar una simple pato en sus zapatos.

G6 said...

"But isn't learning the language part of the whole 'moving to a new country' experience?"

Oh you bet it is.... Ok, WAS....

When my mother in law came to this country 70 years ago from Germany, she had to take a job as a cleaning woman because in those days, the job she wanted (telephone operator) was forbidden to her, not because she did not speak English, but merely because she had an ACCENT!!
Could you imagine the cries of "discrimination" nowadays??!?!
Maybe that's why that generation BECAME something in this country.
Because they didn't take the easy, entitled way out.
They struggled.

G6 said...

My husband corrects me:
AFTER my mother in law did a stint as cleaning woman, she went to secretarial school, where they refused to even TEACH her the switchboard because, "nobody would hire a girl with an accent anyway".
She did eventually become a secretary.

Anonymous said...

Have a little compassion. Not everyone can learn a second language, particularly when they are older. I am one of those people. In my twenties I tried to learn Hebrew, took classes and spent 4 months studying in an ulpan program in Israel. I can't understand anything more than "boger tov."

Moshe said...

GAH! Dealing with people who've been here 10+ years and, forget about write grammatically, can't speak to save their lives!

The Wandering Wondering Jew said...

It could be worse. You could live where I do. 98% of the jobs in my field [accounting/bookkeeping/admin. assisting/medical coding] require that you are bilingual Spanish and English. 85% of the job market as a whole here - in Colorado - requires the bilingual skill set as well.

I took Spanish in school and still remember some of it but not well enough to include it as a job skill set.

In this state [along with New Mexico, Texas, Arizona & California], we actually have schools with only Spanish speaking classes. A child is no longer required to know English in order to graduate high school. All other high school students are required to do so even if English is not their native language. It is a double standards that is doing no one any favors.

NotaGeek! said...

It should be a requirement when applying for citizenship to know the basic everyday English that you need to interact...

Anonymous said...

well there IS such a requirement, what u think, all those latinos have a citizenship?!!!

Moshe said...

There is no such requirement in case of old people.

AmIaFrumFeminist said...

Wandering Wondering Jew --

I believe that the law has been changed in California. As far as I know, the Spanish-only classes have been outlawed in public schools out here.

Material Maidel --

It's a huge problem out here in California. It's sad that people are able to live in a country for years and years without picking up the language, and then have the gall to demand that Spanish-language services be provided for them. This is the United States of America; National Language: English. NOT Spanish.

Maidel said...

glad to hear that has been abolished!

it's pretty sad to think that people who aren't even necessarily citizens could take jobs away from born and raised Americans.

Immigrants are supposed to ADD to a society, not expect a society to help them!

KT said...

IMO more Americans should at least attempt to be bilingual; in other countries many people speak 2-3 languages. I'm currently trying to learn Spanish b/c it's so useful where I am....

Maidel said...

listen, i speak at least 3 languages.
I'm all for learning Spanish - as much as I am for learning Russian or Mandarin.
But this isn't the first time America has seen a wave of immigrants.
But we've never seen Gaelic, Italian, Yiddish or Chinese on a Tropicana bottle.

Moshe said...

Well, Russian's not that bad as long as you stay away from proper grammer. Mandarin...way too hard...learn Japanese instead. Besides the pinyin, there are letters that simply don't exist in English.

KT said...

I live where Tropicana is manufactured :)

Moshe said...

New Jersey?

KT said...

Lol, good guess but waaaay off!!

nmf #7 said...

But what about the schools that are geared towards English as a 2nd language? Would it be better to just immerse them in a English speaking society and let them flounder?
It's hard to learn new languages.

Moshe said...

No it's not. Maybe for adults, but not for kids.

I came to America when I was 10 and spent a year in public school. I was in the back of the class together with 2 other Russian girls, a Russian speaking Israeli guy, an Italian guy and a Chinese girl. We joined the rest of the class for math and during one period, we had ESL. The rest of the time, we sat together and were free to do whatever we wanted as long as we were quiet. Guess what, we learned English, we did very well with Math and we integrated into the rest of the school.
Why? Because we wanted to.

Anonymous said...

English is NOT the official language of the United States. There is no official langauge. English is used in goverment proceedings because the country began as British colonies. Since then the US has picked up a lot of Spanish-speeking territories. The Lousiana territory, while it was bought from Napolean, was as much Spanish territory as French. The Spanish had agreed to let the French have it on condition they kept it, something which brought the legality of the Lousiana purchase into question. Then, during the Mexican war, the entire north of Mexico was detached and became the American Midwest. Texas was originally a Mexican state, and California was a Spanish colony.

Tommy said...

30 states have adopted English as an official language.