Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Can language unify our country?

One of the greatest challenges to implementing more bilingual programs is the vast amount of opposition such programs face. The majority of this opposition comes from English Only advocates who fear that learning other languages will somehow create a nation of people who can't, or won't speak English. The basic premise to the English Only movement is that our country will only be completely united if we all speak one language. If that were true, how then would one explain other bilingual and multilingual countries, such as Switzerland, that have lived peacefully for decades with speakers of a variety of different languages.

On the other hand, if having a common language really had the power to prevent internal strife then certainly the civil war would never have happened, Ireland would have peace and civil wars in other monolingual countries would be unknown. It is apparent that being a monolingual country really has nothing to do with creating a united country. What seems to carry far more weight is the ability of its citizens to respect each other despite the language they speak or the religion they practice. In fact, if we really wanted to create a united country, learning about each other's cultures and languages would likely go much farther than attempting to erradicate them. Bilingual education in all schools would be a step closer to unifying our country and all the people that live in it.

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