English Stays Strong
I’m always amused by fears that English is about to die out. I don’t see any need for an English-language amendment to the Missouri Constitution, because official proceedings are conducted in English anyway. But there’s a growing movement to teach foreign languages to little kids. Could that change our country’s linguistic landscape? The New York Times reports:
Seven-year-old Cooper Van Der Meer is learning Spanish as a second language.
That’s right. This American native is lucky enough to be in a school system that considers the acquisition of languages so important in today’s polyglot, globally entwined America that students start learning a foreign language in kindergarten.
If a generation of kids is comfortable with languages other than English, they might consent to holding legislative debates and judicial hearings in a foreign language after they’ve grown up and become lawyers, that is. But after reading the rest of the article, I remain convinced that English is going to be dominant here for a long time to come. Here’s why: the celebrated language program at Cooper’s school teaches Spanish for 40 minutes, once or twice a week. That’s just not enough time to become anywhere near fluent. And spending more time on foreign language for all students would impose a huge cost on districts. Right now, immersion in the primary grades is limited to a few private schools and charter schools that specialize in languages. Cooper’s Hispanic friends will learn English much more quickly than he’s learning Spanish.