Busted Halo
feature : word on ths street
July 3rd, 2006
Word on the Street : Should immigrants be forced to learn English?

Regarding immigration reform in America, do you think that immigrants should be required to learn English in order to stay in the country?

Emilie, 20
That's ridiculous. The fact that English is the national language right now is arbitrary and based on who colonized the U.S. Our national language should actually be Cherokee or something. We're all, except for Native Americans, immigrants. Voluntary or involuntary. Ninety-nine percent of people are immigrants, and it's arbitrary people should speak English. And yeah, people should try to learn a lot of languages just so we can communicate with one another because that's important. Otherwise, I don't think there should be a law that says you should speak English. There are lots of people who have lived their lives in this country and not spoken English, and they've survived just fine.
Scott, 21
It's absolutely ridiculous. People are focusing now on Spanish speaking immigrants but the same thing has happened to people who spoke Italian or German or Yiddish or whatever language. It's ridiculous to force someone to speak a language. I think it might help the immigrant to learn English because it might better their career prospects, but to say that they have to is absurd. You can live in this country and work and not speak English. So as long as you can do that and support yourself financially or whatever it is that you came here to do, then why should you have to learn English?
Ryan, 21
I would go as far to say that people should be encouraged to learn English and it should be accessible to them if they do choose to learn English and want to learn. I do think it is the mainstream language here, although not as much as some people might think. Spanish is rapidly becoming close to where we are. And I have heard that if immigration continues to progress in its current manner then Spanish speaking people will outnumber English-speaking people. I think it's kind of hard if you live in a country where you don't know the language. But people shouldn't be forced to. I guess that's what we live by. Freedom to do what you want and I think by forcing some official language on people, it's contradicting a lot of what this country stands for.
Mitzi, 35
I think that we as a nation focus too much on immigrants. Okay, give them six months to learn English, and if they don't, go back to your country, go to school there to learn it. They take too much of our resources. Nothing is left for us. It's all about immigration. Those little low paying jobs that you and I wouldn't take, my child could probably do. And they come in and take the minimum wage and keep the economy down. I think, come and visit and the send them back if they don't speak English. Although we should probably know more than our language.
KC, 34
I think they should. It's like when they're on the streets selling icy's and tamales and we're trying to translate something to them like, "How much?" Well, they know the dollar amount. That they understand. But they don't understand anything other than money. And I think for them to relate to us as Americans, they ought to have to learn the language. It's just like if we go to their countries. We have to be able to understand things to get around and to be able to purchase things. We need to understand their language also.

Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • ann

    I had something to say about how someone said how when they are selling tamales? Immigrants arent just mexicans or hispanic people. An immigrant is a person that migrates from another country to a new one.

  • Jill, 32

    I think people should be forced to learn andspeak English because if they can’t speak it, they might not get hired anywhere and that would be a problem.

  • mersim

    hey im mersim immigrants hsould learn english because if they dont we cant understand themm.

  • Karen

    Most people who say “They should learn English!” have never had to learn a foreign language. It’s not easy, especially for adults. And English is one of the most difficult languages to learn because it’s so irregular. Most immigrants are working two or three jobs, just trying to survive and feed and house their families. My grandmother lived here for 60 years and never became fluent in English, but her children were bilingual and her grandchildren don’t even speak the “mother tongue”. That’s how it happens with immigrants. It’s a natural progression.

powered by the Paulists