English As The Official: Should English Be The Official Language Of The United States

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Ura and McCullough’s article shows that the state of Texas is growing, and so is the percentage of different languages spoken in households. With this being said, it is easy to see just how diverse The United States is becoming. There has been a recent debate, if there should be an official language of The United States and if the official language should be English. Most reasonable people think that English should be the official language of The United States, but they may be mistaken, because The United States has always been known as the land of opportunity, and has even encouraged people to come to The United States from all over the world, so limiting the country to have English as the official language would be limiting opportunities by forcing these people to be proficient in English in order for them to pursue their dreams. It would cause for them to waste their time learning a completely different language and they would not be able to pursue their dreams as soon as they got here, so they would be at a standstill for a while.

There are many people who believe that English should be the official language of The United States, because there are many immigrants who do not speak English and much of the money that comes from taxpayers money is put into programs for translators for foreign languages, which many Americans believe that this money could be spent in other issues if the immigrants were to just learn English. In Brice’s article he claims that, “Making English the official language would encourage new immigrants to learn the language of the country they have adopted as theirs.” Based on my own personal experiences, I know that there are many people that think this way in The United States. For example, when I was younger I was translating for some girls from Mexico, so that they could communicate with the teacher, when a student got very upset and started saying that the girls should be able to talk to the teacher themselves in English. He said that why did they come to The United States if they could not speak English and were, they not aware that English was the official language of The United States. This statement that he made about English being the official language was obviously incorrect, but I remember thinking if English were to become the official language of The United States, then people who come to The United States knowing little to no English, will have to deal with claims like this and have no way of defending themselves. I remember this day I realized the type of people I went to school with and if they were rude right now while we were children, I was afraid of what they were going to become like when we were adults, I feared for the future of my generation. Even though I defended the girls from that student, I thought about all the other children that were in schools in The United States that were being treated like that, but did not have someone that could defend them in English or that were too ashamed of their accent to say something or to afraid of what others might do to them if they were to tell an adult about the treatment they received. I think that the type of people who argue that English should be the official language of The United States are people who have never had to face any difficult situations in their life, such as being discriminated against by the color of your skin or the language they speak. These types of people have never been taken out of their element, that is a place where everyone looks and speaks like you and put in a new area with obstacles that include diversity. They have also never been able to understand how difficult it is to leave a country that has everything you have ever known and move to a completely new country that has a new language and new kinds of people on land that you are unfamiliar with.

The idea that English should be the official language of The United States is absurd because there are “at least 350 languages spoken in U.S. homes”. With there being so many languages spoken in The United States it seems ludicrous to make English the official language of The United States. Especially since The United States have always been known as the land of opportunity that invites people from all different backgrounds, for example, James Truslow Adams states 'that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement”. This allows us to see how it is that many people come to The United States hoping to achieve the American dream. People who come to The United States in search of the American dream would have limited opportunities because they would be forced to learn English and until they learned English they would be at a standstill, and this goes against the American dream because the American dream makes it known that everyone has equal opportunities no matter what, so making English the official language would be going against the American dream. Instead of The United States having an official language, I believe that there should be more efforts to translate government documents into even more languages. According to Hansi Lo Wang, there are “a total of 13 languages” that the government document, in this case the U.S. Census, is available in. Some of the languages are English, Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese, Arabic, and Russian. These are only a few languages that are spoken in The United States, there are many other languages that are spoken in The United States and the communities that these people live in are unable to fill out this important form, which if efforts were made to translate these forms into more languages, then more people would be able to fill out these forms which helps The United States become a better country in the end. Ultimately, these people do not fill out the form, not because they do not want to, but because they cannot understand it, and even if they can speak basic English they still cannot comprehend such elaborated questions with their limited English. This would be done to better the future of The United States.

Many people assume that by making official government documents in different languages would just make immigrants not want to learn English, but that is not true. Immigrants know that if they are moving to a country where the language that is spoken is one, they do not know they will have to learn this new language. Most immigrants do speak English, but one has to admit that conversational English is very different from the type of English that is on government documents. If immigrants are still learning basic English, then they will obviously have difficulties trying to read and understand government documents that are in formal language and are not able to fill out these important documents. Especially because the English that is used in these formal government documents are words that are not used in an everyday basis.

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Americans today tend to believe that by having documents and ESL programs in school does not focus on what is important, and that immigrants should just learn English instead of wasting time and effort in ESL programs. Cohn and Constable state that “there have been complaints that too much attention is being given to immigrant students at the expense of their American-born classmates”. This allows us to see how many people in The United States are upset towards immigrants because they are not able to speak any English when they arrive in The United States. We are also able to see how most people believe that there is too much help available to immigrants which is a very rude thing to be upset about. So if English actually does become the official language of The United States then there will be much more hate and discrimination against immigrants. The saddest part of this is that people discriminate even against children that have come to this country to have unlimited opportunities and education. Immigrants are not against learning English, it is simply something that is difficult for them to do, it takes them time.

It is often said that immigrants do not learn English and they should learn English or leave The United States. Laura Hill states that “Nearly all foreign-born Latinos (96%) say it is very important to teach English to the children of immigrant families”. This a popular misconception about immigrants, it is not that they do not want learn English, they do want to learn English the only thing that stops them is that it takes time for them to learn English. So, eventually immigrants do learn English because they do deem it important so that their families are able to receive all opportunities possible and not be forced to face limited opportunities. Hill also states that “A majority of Americans (62%) think recent immigrants do not learn English in a “reasonable” time frame”. This allows us to see how many Americans are being unreasonable by saying that immigrants do not learn English as quickly as they hoped. One needs to realize that learning a new language is not easy for one to do, while they are preoccupied with learning about a new country, they have migrated to in order to follow their dreams. It is no easy task to learn a language. It takes perseverance and determination in order to learn a completely new language. It has been proven that learning a language takes a lot of time. John Malathronas states that “mastering a language is a long-term commitment taking years, not months”. This allows us to see that even someone who is completely focused and determined to learn a new language takes a while to learn this new language. If in this situation it is a long-term commitment and it is challenging, imagine how much more challenging it is for people are extremely occupied dealing with lifelong changes in an unknown land. Instead, shouldn’t we be helping immigrants adapt to their new life situations?

One of the main ways that we can help immigrants with the move is by making it easier for them to understand the government documents and provide them in multiple languages not only in English. Afterall, everyone in The United States is here for the same thing, to seize opportunities that we did not have available in other countries. If we make English the official language of The United States then we will be doing something that has never been done before, limiting opportunities. If English was the official language of The United States then everyone would be required to speak it fluently and if not then they would not be able to get a job anywhere, so where would that leave the immigrants?

It is already difficult enough for immigrants to have jobs, yet if English becomes the official language of The United States there will be little to no jobs, their opportunities will be extremely limited. The job that the majority of immigrants have are being farm workers. At times immigrants are looked down upon because of the amount of English they speak or even the accent that they speak English. But what people do not realize is that the jobs that immigrants have are very important not only for the employers but for the American economy as a whole. This is what was said about a farm worker “Her job as a field worker has been deemed by the federal government as “essential” to the country”. This allows us to see just how important the job that immigrants do are, so we should be thankful towards them for all the hard work that they do. It is important to remember that immigrants work very hard in a country that they do not know and is not their own, but they adapt to the country and adopt it as their own. They truly show that they are here in The United States for the opportunities that their own countries have failed to give to them. They feel comfortable in The United States because we all look different, we are all diverse, but together we are one, and they long to be apart of such a diverse yet united country.The kindness that they show motivates us to want to help them in any way possible. A major way we can repay them is by not making English the official language of The United States. Overtime immigrants learn to speak English but in a timely fashion.

The United States is not known for limiting opportunities, if anything The United States is known as somewhere you can pursue your dreams no matter who you are. The Declaration of Independence states that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. The Declaration of Independence is what The United States is based off of and we are able to see how two of the main fundamental values is that everyone in The United States is seen as “equal” and that everyone has a right to “the pursuit of Happiness”. With this being said, everyone no matter what language they speak have the right to pursue their happiness, which implies that their opportunities should not be limited. But if English is made the official language of The United States then their opportunities will surely be limited. Also, there is nothing in The Declaration of Independence that states that English should be the official language of The United States. That was never the intention of the founders of The United States. The only intention that they had was to make The United States a country where people could from different countries to pursue their happiness and make their own life. No true American would want to go against what The Declaration of Independence wanted for The United States since the beginning.

As a result, even though most reasonable people believe that English should be the official language of The United States, I strongly disagree that English should be the official language of The United States because it could cause for opportunities to be limited, especially towards immigrants. It is very important for people in The United States to understand that English should not become the official language in The United States, because it would go against the foundation of The United States. It would go completely against The Declaration of Independence. 

The experience I had related earlier about the two girls that were from Mexico that I would translate for they eventually learned English and I am proud to say that they graduated from High School thanks to the ESL programs and their hard work. Eventually they learned English and put all those bad experiences behind them, and they do not have limited opportunities, they have an abundance of opportunities because there is no official language of The United States. Even though many people would disagree with this statement, it is very important to think about what if the roles were reversed. How would someone feel if a person from The United States was put in a country such as China where you have to speak Chinese in order to get a job and it could not just be basic Chinese but formal Chinese as well. Not to mention that there are many different variations of Chinese in China such as Mandarin, Cantonese, Shanghainese, Sichuanese, Yunnanese, and these are only a few variations of Chinese. Imagine how it would feel to adapt to a whole new country, culture, and then a series of new languages all around you that you are not able to understand, would that not feel stressful, to say the least? We should remember these things before deciding to agree with the vast majority.

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