Language diversity is key to future

By Rebecca Martin

The Daily Aztec

(San Diego State University)

(U-WIRE) SAN DIEGO — A few days ago I picked up a copy of U.S. News and World Report and began a search for column ideas.

I opened the magazine and came upon an ad with a picture of two kids and a flag, with the words “I pledge allegiance to the bandera del los Estados Unidos de Amerika und der Republik.”

Upon reading this ad, I was pleased at what seemed to be an ad for diversity — cultures coming together to pledge their allegiance to the United States.

Unfortunately, I read on only to find these words underneath: “It’s coming to this.”

The group responsible for the ad, U.S. English, is fighting to make English the official spoken language in the United States. They believe that English should be the only language used in everything government-run, from schools to city council meetings.

In its words, “We just don’t believe that the government should spend money providing services in multiple languages.”

It doesn’t sound like a bad idea, at first. Many nations have officially spoken languages, and English is our main language of communication.

But think about the implications. If Congress rules that English may be the only language spoken in government-run facilities, it will affect everything from schools to city council meetings.

This means that all bilingual programs in our schools would be terminated.

Bilingual programs not only help Spanish-speaking children integrate into the American culture, but also expose English-speaking children to a second language when they are still at a young age and can pick it up quickly.

This gives them an advantage throughout their entire lives over monolingual people.

Those who speak a second language have more to offer and thereforeare more readily accepted to universities and more often hired by employers.

Whether English becomes our official language, people who work in the United States will need to communicate with people who speak different languages than they do. We live in a global society. The more effectively we can communicate, the better off we are.

U.S. English disagrees, stating “The whole notion of a melting-pot society is threatened if new immigrants aren’t encouraged to learn English.” But the “whole notion of a melting-pot society” is outdated. This was how President Franklin Roosevelt described our budding diversity in the ’40s.

Times have changed since then.

Our culture is expanding to include aspects of the many different cultures of our nation’s immigrants. Holidays from other cultures that have become mainstream in the United States, such as Cinco de Mayo, are opening our eyes to the fact that America isn’t the only nation on Earth.

San Diego State’s own cultural diversity class requirement enables students to learn about other cultures that aren’t their own, giving them an enriching experience — even if uncomfortable at first.

My point is that our country isn’t a melting pot of cultures; it is a supreme pizza with everything on it.

Without all its toppings, the pizza would just be plain cheese — bland and tasteless.

English isn’t going to disappear; it will remain the dominant language in the United States for centuries to come. But we shouldn’t be afraid to accept and integrate other languages into our schools and other government-run institutions.

As any biology major will tell you, diversity s the key to prosperity.