Archive for Thursday, June 8, 2006

English use a courtesy

Foreign students expected to have knowledge of language

June 8, 2006

Tied to the current immigration debate has been discussion about making English the national language.

As an English as a second language immigrant, I find this process rather confusing and absurd. Many of the people who have been vocal on this issue are politicians trying to put a spin on the immigration issue.

Unfortunately, I don't think many of these politicians really understand the issue at hand. Sure it still relates back to the proposed immigration law, but what is in play is a country rightfully trying to establish some identity. Many of these politicians who oppose having English as the national language must not have a very global-minded view.

Many of the countries around the world have already established a national language. This is a norm practiced by numerous countries. If you have done any kind of traveling, you would know that while English is a commonly spoken language, fluency in the native language of many countries have their own language they are native to. If you lived in that country it is vital if you want to make your life comfortable. So why is it so wrong to expect the same here?

When students from countries apply to the colleges here, they must first pass the TOEFL. That stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language. If they don't pass, they are not admitted to the colleges here and if for some reason they do make it here through some scholarship program, they would not be allowed to begin their course work until they take a semester of English.

If such strict requirements are already in place for international students, why is it such an issue for illegal immigrants? I was lucky to have passed that test on the first try and accorded the opportunity to study here. But many are denied that opportunity because they lack the command of the language.

The requirement for someone to learn to speak a native language is not an imposition; it is the right of the country that one lives in. Just because it inconveniences some people, doesn't make it "illegal."

Wait, who are the people who are supposed to cause hardship to, the "illegal immigrants?" My personal feelings are any discussion of rights should stop when the word "illegal" is mentioned. That alone should negate any arguments.

It is a sense of pride when a country can declare that it has its own national language.

Fortunately or unfortunately, America has used English as its medium, primarily because its founding fathers were of British origin.

English is the national language in England, and you don't hear about people criticizing them. They also have an influx of people from many other countries in the world. I have been there and everybody speaks with that "bloody" British accent, no matter their ancestry.

Most people understand the need to learn the local language when they move to another country. That's because language is the backbone of the infrastructure of the community. Can you imagine if every ethnic group in this country decided not to learn English and only in their native language? Disastrous would not even begin to describe that scenario.

It should be considered a privilege that one has the opportunity to learn and live in a foreign country, no matter where that might be. To demand privilege for selfish reasons is almost akin to disrespecting the "hand that feeds" you.

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