Sunday, May 29, 2005

English Only Web Sites?

Many major American cities provide their official websites in multiple languages. Philadelphia makes its site available in 12 languages, costing the city about three thousand dollars annually. Eric Gioa, a New York City councilman, (D-Sunnyside) suggested that New York City should also provide a multilingual web site. Minority Leader James Oddo (R-Staten Island) disagreed vehemently saying that "throughout its history, the common and unifying thread that has bound individuals... has been the English language." This is only partially true. The US has always been a multilingual country from its beginnings although English has been the dominant language. As usual, when it comes to providing services for immigrants, Republicans oppose them while Democrats favor them. This is strange since Republicans are pro business and most businesses provide services in many languages to attract customers. Sounds like republicans don't want to attract immigrants and at the same time don't want their votes.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Curing Monolingualism in Connecticut

It used to be that students’ first opportunity to study a foreign language occurred in junior high school for Central, Eastern and Western schools in Connecticut. Now it’s different. The first opportunity occurs in elementary school. That means when students reach middle school they have already had two years of Spanish or French. The district received a federal grant for three years totaling $285,000 to introduce foreign languages in elementary schools.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

When Words Kill

The most dangerous jobs in Iraq are those held by interpreters. Most of them work for Titan, a civilian contractor which provides language services to military personnel. Interpreters work alongside of soldiers but in most cases carry no weapons. Interpreters are despised by Iraqi insurgents who see them as traitors. Merely being seen in the company of American soldiers poses risks which can lead to death.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

No English, No License?

Like many American states, Alabama offers driver’s license tests in a number of languages in addition to English. Now a lawsuit would make tests available only in English. Six individuals who are members of an English-only advocacy group have sued Alabama Governor Bob Riley and Department of Public Safety Director Mike Coppage for allowing tests in other languages. They claim that since Alabama passed a law declaring English the state’s official language, services in other languages should not be available. These extremists are not really trying to protect the state or the country from other languages but are really attempting to make it difficult for immigrants to integrate. Without licenses, people are stuck and can’t get to the store, go to school, jobs, and Americanize. They could also pose a threat since some might drive without a license and endanger other motorists. Unfortunately, English-only people are blind and can’t see two inches from their noses.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Vetoing English Only

Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano vetoed and English-only bill for her state because the measure is “flawed.” The bill, according to the governor, will not accomplish the goal of making all Arizonans fluent in English. English-only laws are always insulting particularly to those citizens who speak a language which has existed in the US long before English came to the new world.

Adieu to French

Ventura College is dropping French I, II, III and IV as well as German III and IV. The cuts will save district approximately $120,000. Savings emerge primarily from the French and German’s instructor’s salaries. While these two languages are being cut, an extra section of beginning Spanish will be offered. The addition of the extra Spanish course is certainly welcome; cutting French and German most certainly is not.