The Unbridled Pragmatist
smart enough to know how dumb we are

Press 1 For Annoyance

Immigration, legal and illegal, presents problems that affect every facet of American society.  I am no expert on these matters nor do I make any attempt at portraying one.  My father immigrated to this country in the 1970’s, exemplifying the American dream.  I strongly believe in America as the land of opportunity for anyone willing to work hard; fully realizing how antiquated some feel that notion to be. 

That said I am officially over pressing 1 for English.  Almost any mundane daily transaction now comes with the preface of picking a language.  To quote a brilliant 21st century philosopher (also my roommate) in response to an ATMs question over language preference “How bout the language printed on the money!”  The stories are recycled by now, but there was a time when immigrants came to America to embrace the country, learn the language and assimilate.  Now more than ever it appears immigrants come to America for economic opportunity (even given current market conditions) while never embracing the country or even attempting to learn the language.  What is worse is government, financial institutions, schools and most other functions in modern American society seem to placate those who refuse to learn English. 

I fully understand the reality that some do not have the means to learn English, or perhaps that a language as nuanced as English takes time to learn.  I respect and appreciate all those who try.  It is also widely believed that the best way to truly learn a language is to be immersed in that language.  It is time to start immersing. 

Reading Andres Oppenhiemer’s op-ed piece from The Washington Post some alarming facts jumped out.  China, you know that country with the world’s fastest growing economy, begins teaching students English for four hours a week starting in third grade.  Contrast that to Mexico where students begin learning English for two hours a week in seventh grade.  English is widely considered the international language of science, finance, diplomacy and politics.  Future generations around the world will speak English as well as there native tongue, with the developing world embracing English as the language of the future. 

 If the global future of language is English shouldn’t we demand that citizens and those living in the US be competent in that language?  At what point are we doing a disservice to those non-english speakers enabling the bilingual cycle to continue?  The point has certainly come where I don’t want to press 1 anymore.

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One Response to “Press 1 For Annoyance”


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