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I’ve been biased against the Spanish language ever since I was tortured by my Spanish teacher from kindergarten to fifth grade. My private school felt that we needed to start foreign language at a young age, and that it would somehow help us succeed later. Since kindergarteners can’t exactly pick between Spanish, Italian, Latin, French or another language, it was decided for us.
Let me tell you, the idea that Spanish would be useful later was completely wrong. The teacher wore this horrendous smelling perfume, which I can still smell to this day. By the end of class, I would sit there with a pounding headache, hoping the punishment would end. She spoke with this heavy Spanish accent that I couldn’t even understand. How the hell am I supposed to learn Spanish if I can’t even understand the teacher? I spent most of the time looking up curse words in my Webster’s English-Spanish Dictionary.
I was only 12 when I finished what I would later swear would be my purgatory when I die. Of course, this was an exaggeration, and now it no longer seems like the devil. But I did promise myself on that last day of Spanish class that I would never speak that language again, or any other language except English, for that matter. Little did I understand the concept of immigration and how it would affect me years down the road.
I grew up in the metropolitan suburbs of Washington, D.C., surrounded by politics and a multitude of ethnicities. Sure, there are your average brilliant Asians, successful blacks, and of course, millions of Hispanics flooding our area. Please don’t consider me a racist–I am nowhere near that.
And honestly, my problem is not really with the people themselves.
How many times have you walked into McDonald’s and not been able to order easily, or at all, because the person taking your order can’t understand English? Perhaps I’m the only one absolutely frustrated by the fact that we have Mexican grocery stores. And you know, I also think you shouldn’t be able to hold a driver’s license if you need a translator for the test. That thought makes me scared to get on the road. All the street signs are in English, and I know what you’re thinking: we should resign them in Spanish, too. No, we shouldn’t! Just like we shouldn’t allow our government to spend millions of dollars on re-signing all the metro stops in D.C. in English and Spanish. I’m also irritated by the fact that more money was put into ESL classes than art classes. Why are we accommodating?
The United States was once called the melting pot. My great grandparents immigrated here from all parts of the world including Ireland, Hungary and Poland. When they did arrive in the United States, their parents forbid them from speaking their native language. They wanted their children to succeed in the new land of opportunity, and speaking English was part of the transition. What happened to this idea?
No, I’m not saying give up your native language. No, I’m not telling you to forget your heritage. I still uphold Polish and Hungarian values and traditions. I’m saying that if immigrants expect to be accepted into the American culture and way of life, then they must learn English. The United States government has made it far too easy for immigrants not to.
People immigrate to America looking for better opportunities and a new life. The language barrier hurts those opportunities and causes racial turmoil, like the protests that took place last year in the Capitol. The language difference also hurts the employer-employee relationship, the student-teacher relationship and the citizen-immigrant relationship. This makes it harder for immigrants to find a job, be accepted into the work place, gain educational achievements, and find true success within the United States.
The United States has yet to declare a national language. But if they declare English as the national language it will take away racial turmoil and allow for more opportunities for citizens and immigrants. It will set the stage for what is required at jobs and schools, removing citizen and immigrant conflict. Isn’t it time the United States took a stand?
Contact Campus Press staff writer Lauren E. Geary at Lauren.firstname.lastname@example.org.