The Importance of English in America – ProEnglish on Devising a Sensible Language Policy
The United States of America is a melting pot of different cultures from around the world. The diversity of languages spoken in the country serves as a testament to the success of the American Dream. However, English has become the primary language that unites everyone. It is the language of business, education, and everyday communication. The English language is essential in America, and ProEnglish believes in devising a sensible language policy to ensure that English remains the dominant language.
In this article, we will discuss the importance of English in America, its advantages, and the need for a language policy that encourages the use of English without discriminating against other languages or cultures.
The Advantages of Knowing English in America
The advantages of knowing English in America go beyond merely communicating effectively. The ability to speak English fluently opens up various opportunities for individuals, businesses, and immigrants.
Businesses rely on English for communication, advertising, and marketing. A majority of global businesses operate in the English language, and companies are more likely to hire employees who can communicate effectively in English. This is because an employee who is bilingual or multilingual can help the company in expanding into new international markets. In the long term, businesses that have employees who speak English fluently tend to be more profitable.
English has also become the universal language of the internet. According to an internet survey, over 56.1% of all internet content is in the English language. Therefore, knowing English enables internet users to browse the web without limitations, enabling them to access information on a global scale.
The ability to speak English fluently also helps immigrants in the United States to integrate into American society. The English language is necessary for the development of essential skills such as reading, writing, and problem-solving. Immigrants who can speak English can communicate with others, enroll in schools and colleges, and find employment opportunities.
However, the importance of English should not mean the marginalization of other languages spoken in America. Recognizing and respecting other languages is crucial in promoting diversity and inclusivity in the American society.
The Need for a Sensible Language Policy
ProEnglish advocates for a sensible language policy that does not discriminate against the use of other languages. The policy should encourage the use of English as the primary language of communication in businesses, public agencies, and educational institutions. Additionally, there should be support for English learners to help them become proficient in the language.
The creation of a sensible language policy does not mean that the government should prohibit the use of other languages. Rather it means promoting English proficiency in the American society while acknowledging the importance of other languages spoken in the country. The government has a role in ensuring that English remains the dominant language while respecting the country’s multilingual culture.
A sensible language policy could help immigrants in their assimilation into American society. By providing support to persons seeking proficiency in English, the government fosters inclusivity and equal opportunities for all regardless of their native languages.
Historical Evolution of Language Policy in America
The evolution of language policy in America has been a tumultuous one. In the 19th century, immigrants came in vast numbers to America, bringing with them their diverse cultures and languages. The common language spoken in America was English, but the immigrant languages were also used in communities.
As immigrants assimilated into American society, the need for English proficiency arose. In the 1920s, schools in America prohibited the use of languages other than English. Students caught using their native languages were punished. This was done to encourage English language acquisition and discourage the use of other languages.
During World War II, the United States military created the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) to teach soldiers foreign languages to be used in dropping leaflets. The program was eventually abolished due to concerns that teaching foreign languages to American soldiers would enable them to communicate with enemy forces.
The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s brought changes in America’s language policy. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ensured that people were not discriminated against on the basis of their language. Public institutions receiving federal funds were prohibited from discriminating against individuals who spoke languages other than English.
In 2000, President Clinton signed an executive order that required federal agencies to work towards providing services in languages other than English. This was an attempt by the government to ensure that non-native English speakers were not disadvantaged in acquiring services that were essential for their daily lives.
However, the need to promote English proficiency in America remains crucial. This is where ProEnglish comes in.
ProEnglish: Advocating for Sensible Language Policy in America
ProEnglish is an organization that advocates for English as the official language of the United States. The organization believes that English proficiency is necessary for the integration of immigrants into American society and for promoting business and social communications. ProEnglish believes that a sensible language policy that encourages English proficiency while acknowledging the importance of other languages spoken in America is necessary.
The organization offers resources such as online courses to help individuals acquire English proficiency. ProEnglish works with businesses, schools, and government agencies to promote the importance of English proficiency without discriminating against other languages spoken in America. The organization supports legal immigrants seeking English proficiency to help them integrate into the American society quickly.
The Role of the Government in Creating a Sensible Language Policy
The government has a crucial role in creating a sensible language policy that promotes English proficiency and acknowledges the importance of other languages spoken in America. The government can achieve this by offering resources that help individuals acquire English proficiency, creating laws that promote language diversity, and supporting communities that speak languages other than English.
To create a sensible language policy, the government should work towards providing support to individuals seeking English proficiency. This could be achieved by funding programs that help individuals learn English. In doing so, the government would be promoting inclusivity and a level playing field by ensuring that individuals who are not fluent in English have equal opportunities.
The government should also create laws that promote language diversity and protect individuals from being discriminated against on the basis of their language. This could be achieved by promoting bilingual education, recognizing language diversity in schools and workplaces, and ensuring that public services are available in languages other than English.
Finally, the government should support communities that speak languages other than English. Immigrants who retain their native languages often feel marginalized and isolated. The government could provide resources or funding to support the teaching of heritage languages in schools, enabling individuals to maintain their cultures and languages while acquiring English proficiency.
In conclusion, the importance of English in America cannot be overstated. English is the language of communication in businesses, education, and everyday life. It is essential in fostering integration among immigrants and promoting inclusivity in America. However, the need for English proficiency should not lead to the marginalization of other languages spoken in America.
A sensible language policy that promotes English proficiency while acknowledging the importance of other languages spoken in America is necessary. The government has a crucial role in creating a language policy that promotes language diversity, ensures inclusivity, and offers equal opportunities to everyone regardless of their native languages. ProEnglish advocates for a sensitive language policy that encourages English proficiency while recognizing the importance of language diversity in the American society.
Most studies have shown that the single most important factor in determining the economic success of immigrants in the United States is their ability to speak English. One study has shown that immigrants can increase their earnings by 20 percent by improving their English language speaking ability from “not well” to “very well.” Furthermore, the earnings gap between native-born Americans and immigrant narrows when English language ability improves dramatically – by 6 to 10 percent for women and 16 to 18 percent for men.
In terms of long-established immigrants, those who have learned to speak English very well earn 67 percent more than those who speak it poorly. Also, in terms of education among the 18 to 24 year old contingent, those who speak English very well are almost three times more likely to finish high school than those who do not, and are naturally much more likely to earn a tertiary degree.
Beyond the obvious and well documented economic and educational benefits of speaking English well in America, the English language has served as a unifying force among Americans of all ethnicities and national origins for centuries. Americans practice a multitude of different religions, adhere to various different political ideologies, but language has always served as a common denominator among us. In the 18th century, Dutch settlers went through language shift and adopted English, the same process occurred among German immigrants in the 19th century and Japanese, Italian and Greek immigrants in the 20th century. The pattern has always been that immigrants come here speaking a new language, shift from usage of the old language to English and succeed and become part of the patchwork that is America. It is a winning formula to which we need to adhere so that we may continue to write the success story that is America.
Hence, the importance of the English language provision in the new immigration reform legislation that is being debated in Congress cannot be overstated. This provision would require that for undocumented immigrants to get on the path to citizenship, they would need to learn English and civics. Finally, a triumph of common sense over political correctness.
ProEnglish is a national, non-profit organization that supports making English the sole official language of the United States. ProEnglish works through the courts and even in the court of public opinion to protect the historic role of the English language as the United States’ unifying language and to lobby lawmakers to make English the official language at all governmental levels.
The following is an interview with Robert Vandervoort, Executive Director of ProEnglish, on his thoughts and feelings about the English language provision in the immigration reform legislation and the work of his organization in the realm of promoting and defending the status of the English language in America.
How do you feel about the immigration-reform bill being debated in Congress?
ProEnglish is concerned that the current immigration bill in Congress does not have any meaningful English language requirements. In order to become a “Registered Provisional Immigrant”, which essentially legalizes millions of people who are not here legally at the moment; there are no English language requirements. After receiving Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status, they can then apply for a green card, which has some very weak English language requirements. Our concern is that bringing in so many non-English speaking people at once into our system, without any meaningful requirement that they learn English, will place an enormous strain on our system.
Do you think the English language provision in the immigration-reform bill goes far enough to promote English language usage among immigrants?
We do not believe the English language requirements in the proposed bill go far enough. There is no English language requirement to receive RPI status; however there are some weak English language requirements to receive a work visa. For example, if an applicant can show they are enrolled in an English language class, which will meet the requirement. They do not have to show they completed the class, or received a passing grade; they just have to show they are enrolled in a class. There are also exemptions for people over the age of 70 and under the age of 16. Finally, there is no in-person interview to determine if the applicant is proficient in English.
Two dozen states have English as an official language. What is the significance of this also happening at the federal level?
If your readers visit our website at ProEnglish.org, they will see a list of all the states that have official English. Having states pass official English laws helps the taxpayer save money from avoiding unnecessary translation costs, and it also sends an important message that English is the language one needs to assimilate to.
What other steps would you like to see Congress take to promote English language knowledge and usage?
In the past, there have been bills defending English-in-the-workplace, so that business owners do not have to fear lawsuits if they wish to conduct their business in English. We would like to see the repeal of Bill Clinton’s Executive Order 13166 which requires the federal government to provide translation services in any language to anyone.
There is also a need to get a full accounting on just how much money the federal government spends on translation costs. To date, there was a limited study done by the federal government back in 2002, which found we spend over $2 billion on translation costs, but nothing new since.
We believe the government should discontinue the use of multilingual ballots, which are costly and do not promote assimilation or English language usage. We would also like to see Congress promote English language immersion in the classrooms over bilingual education programs. Studies show that bilingual education programs do not work compared to English language immersion programs.
Do you believe a common tongue among Americans, with that tongue being English, could serve as a great unifying force among us?
It’s very clear that having one language is a key component in bringing all Americans together. If you look around the world, you see many places that are dividing over language issues. For example, even our neighbors to the North, in Canada, are divided over language. Much time and money is spent in Canada on translation costs of French and English. Language divisions can be a source of friction, as is the case in Belgium and in Latvia. We are very blessed to have a common tongue that helps us communicate with one another in all fifty states. Yes, our common language of English is a great unifying force, and one we must work to preserve.
Interviewed with Robert Vandervoort of ProEnglish, Arlington, Virginia