By making English the official language of the United States, we take away the political power of the non-English speaking residents of this country Essay

Language is one of the most important determinants of cultural and political identity of a nation. The language of national majority is commonly associated with the language of the nation-state, the idea of rights and duties oppose the community in fact predated the territorial concept of the modern nation-state. It is important to bear in mind that citizenship has never only been about nationhood. There have always been contrasting uses of the term, which have not drawn upon such territorial factors.

The USA is multicultural society consisting of different nationalities and ethic groups which co-exist in one community. Thesis By making English the official language of the USA, we are socially discriminating non-English speaking residents. Making English an official language of the USA, state officials deprive many national minorities a chance for cultural self-determination and expression. In cultural context, Hispanics is the nation’s largest ethnic minority which constitutes 13,7% of the entire population (Hispanic Americans By the Numbers. 2006).

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The main Hispanic groups include Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Latin Americans, and African Americans. Another largest racial group is Asian population including Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, Indians, Arabs, etc. It is important to note that national culture is a notoriously difficult concept to pin down because it embodies different frames of reference and traditions. Most people come to identify with a particular ethnic group through their primary socialization with parents, other family members and friends, and, of course, with peers and teachers.

Socialization refers to the practices through which children acquire social identities, and for this reason derived a chance to master their own language at school form early years, these groups are discriminated forced to use English as the only official language of the USA. Language policy has figured prominently in the political sphere, but in America it has generally had a low profile, mostly because those in power do not wish to implement change that might challenge American national homogeneity (Brisk et al 2004). American culture represents a unique mixture of different languages and religions, races and nationalities.

Cultural factors exert the major influence on behavior of people as it is the fundamental determinant of a person’s wants and behavior. Culture is shared by members the American society and the behavioral traits of which it is comprised are manifested in a social institutions and artifacts. Still, by making English the official language of the USA, the state limits opportunities and cultural freedom of non-English citizens. Today, many bi-racial families face with the problems caused by educational segregation of their children, right violation and neighbors’ hostility.

American culture represents a mixture of different historical backgrounds (Hispanic and African, Jewish and Asian population, etc), structure, and functioning. It determines how its artifacts and institutions developed to cope with the environment; and the effects of the geographical environment on the culture, acculturation, and assimilation. On the other hand, a single official language discriminates these cultural groups depriving them a chance to express their uniqueness and social significance.

To some extent, one official language obliterates cultural differences and national peculiarities. In general, socialization comes about through a combination of direct instruction, modeling, feedback, and other-generated experiences. Importantly, these various forms of socialization practices all take place through the native language of the home and community. This means that native language becomes a crucial element of what constitutes ethnicity for many individuals (Brisk et al 2004).

Critics state (Jackson II 1999) that perceivers not only rely on observable associations to infer the presence of some profound reality common to all group members, but also use their naive theories about the inherent nature of people to generate surface links among the members. Usually, the surface characteristics that are associated with the group members are both the antecedent and the result of the beliefs that people entertain about any given social group. The inclusion of participation in any such definition seems at first hand to betray the assumption of a relationship between citizenship, power and language.

Such a relationship needs some clarification, as power and language is itself a complex term. Despite this, he would agree that even the construction of the most local, or national, of political identities is itself a rich source of information about the emergence of a new form of citizenship. People construct their sense of citizenship in accordance with multiple factors. Taking into account present day situation, it is evident that many American citizens are discriminated, because they have no chance to construct their national identities through the native language.

Following Jackson II (1999) the identity is constructed through the language and cultural identity as a political action. Theoretical approaches to the study of language as construction of national identity cannot be easily divorced from their nation-state foundations. However, the significance of social contract theories in the study of citizenship cannot be overstated. Researchers identify a relationship between the idea of identity and power and the language. Also, there is a link between the state language and the self-development of the ethic group.

Some critics speak about conflicts between English language and national identity as the outcome of perceived or real injustice. Bilingual education allows many national groups to preserve their uniqueness and cultural identity. Local politics often affect economic decisions regarding programs for bilingual students. Schools that believe in the economic advantages of knowing more than one language and adequately preparing all students for the demands of the future will see fit to meet the needs of bilingual students.

On the other hand, schools that perceive bilingual students as an economic burden unconsciously or consciously renege on their commitment to these students. “As a cultural phenomenon, language of course, is learned,” Rich explained, “It is culturally induced and developed, and as such, reflects the values of the culture. language enculturates the individual by predetermining how [s]he sees the world” (Andrea Rich 1974, 130 cited Jackson II 199, 39)”

Following Blot and Briggs (2004) well – organized bilingual education can result high levels of school achievement in long run at no cost to English acquisition, among students from disempowered groups. Teaching bi-language can helps students to overcome poverty, family illiteracy and social stigmas associated with minority status. The ruling in Lau v. Nichols (1974) by U. S. Supreme Court made the onus on the government to offer appropriate language accommodations to preserve fundamental rights of minority’s ethnic group.

Advocates for bilingual education stress that students need to study mathematics, science and social studies in their own languages to understand the subject matter and absorb it quickly and they base their views to a research which reveals that students learn English better if they first gain literacy in their own language. “The White-dominated system encourages Blacks to be White, and simultaneously convinces Blacks that they will never become White, and the best they will ever be is a good Negro” (Jackson II 1999, 16). As the population of U. S continues to change, transforming into a nation of non- English speakers, the role of the field of English as a second language has gained more recognition.

Some researchers (Brisk et al 2004) advocate that by making English only as an official language is the reasonable way to handle over 300 languages spoken in the U. S. Some studies disclose that immigrant learn English slower when they are sustained by their native language. As multilingual government services support the growth of linguistic enclaves, this enable the U. S to segregate into separate linguistic groups because of ethnical and racial conflicts. Many also believe that official English can save money from the replication of government services in multiple languages. It is not to be expected from U. S government to offer services in the 300 languages used in the country. Individual should take responsibility to develop the English knowledge proficiency if they do really want to mix with American culture (Blot, Briggs 2003).

In general, choice in education must attempt to ensure that use of a particular language as medium of instruction does not imply condemnation of other languages to low positions in a hierarchical linguistic ordering or the exclusion of particular groups from access to power and resources. A first step might be to break with the pattern of schools being defined as educating children through the medium of language (Afrikaans, English, etc. ), when the goal for such learners must be high levels of competence in these languages.

A choice between native and English is unfair when English language has much higher status than all others and when parents cannot be expected to know what consequences will follow from an uninformed assumption that greater use of English will necessarily bring success (Blot, Briggs 2003). To assume that a language is necessarily associated with its native speakers is an American way of looking at linguistic identity, one that is remote from the reality of many non-Americans for whom multilingualism is the norm. It seems to be inspired by a notion that a language is bonded with a specific culture and worldview.

It looks at the purposes served by, for instance, linguistic or ethnic mobilization for consolidating a nation or for resisting oppression. To some extent, language and ethical differences permit people great liberty to entertain whatever culture they wish in their private lives but heavily constrain the exercise of religiously inspired values in the public arena. In free society, the democracy has acquired remarkably strong emotive overtones. Its use is often as much designed to provoke a favorable attitude towards a political regime, as it is to describe particular features of it.

Democratic procedures are special sorts of political procedures which are designed to involve the “people” in decision-making and the making of laws, in the way that monarchical or autocratic procedures are obviously not. In contrast to constitutionally grated rights, liberal rights and freedom are allocable to only the English-speaking individuals. In spite of positive effects of the cultural mix, at the beginning of the new millennium, American society is still faced with the problems of inequalities and rejection of minority groups (Brisk et al 2004).

By making English the official language, the state discriminate non-English speaking residents because democracy gives all citizens the right to participate regardless of any differences: age, sex, religion, etc. In sum, one official language deprives many American citizens a chance to be equally treated by the state. The rich, diverse linguistic potential of many ethic groups therefore remains largely untapped, most languages being deprived of resources and rights. The majority of citizens in America are governed in a language that they do not speak.

In this case, it is crucial to change current social policies and ‘grant’ national and ethical minorities a right to participate in social issues and cultural life of the country. Democracy requires full participation from those allowed to, so in any democratic society, all citizens should have a right to participate in ruling of the state, making amends and propose new laws with wider approval base. Current social politics does not take an ethical stance. Only through language personality and self-identity could express unique set of values of a community membership.

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