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Choosing to be obtuse for political reasons (updated)
Posted by: McQ on Saturday, June 16, 2007

Not that both sides don't make that choice at times, but in this case, it is the left involved. The unpardonable sin?
Some Hispanic leaders lashed out Friday at California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's advice that immigrants should "turn off the Spanish television set" to better learn how to speak English.

Schwarzenegger, who immigrated to the U.S. from Austria, recently told a group of Hispanic journalists that immigrants should stay away from Spanish-language television, books and newspapers.

"You've got to turn off the Spanish television set," Schwarzenegger said Wednesday night at the annual convention of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists in San Jose, Calif. "You're just forced to speak English, and that just makes you learn the language faster."
That advice was given not by just anyone, but by a very successful immigrant who had gone through precisely the process of immigration and assimilation about which he was speaking. He answered a very specific question honestly. That, of course, was his "mistake".
Schwarzenegger answered a question about how Hispanic students can improve academic performance, saying he was about to make a politically-incorrect statement.

"I know this sounds odd and this is the politically incorrect thing to say and I'm going to get myself in trouble," Schwarzenegger said. "But I know that when I came to this country, I very rarely spoke German to anyone."
Given the context of the question "how can Hispanic students improve academic performance", it seems that improving their English language skills would be a top priority. And as most academics will tell you, the most effective way to learn a new language in the shortest amount of time is through "total immersion" in that language.

Obviously then, Spanish language television would actually hinder total immersion and the quest for better English language skills.

Of course that's the logical and rational argument.

Naturally the knees were jerking when the criticism was offered:
Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., called the governor's advice a "typical sound bite solution to an important issue," said Jim Dau, a spokesman for Sanchez.

Sanchez said immigrants face the challenge of taking an ESL course because of long lines and up to a three-year wait to get into a class.
Of course no one explained to Ms. Sanchez that ESL isn't the only source of learning English. Nor is ESL germane to a question about Hispanic kids and their academic performance. But what should be obvious, even to her, is Spanish language television certainly isn't a source of English. However English language TV could be an aid, couldn't it?

One of my favorite [/sarcasm] criticisms however was this:
A Hispanic advocacy group said Schwarzenegger's comments show his "ignorance on immigration issues."

"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger demonstrated his ignorance on immigration issues once again by perpetuating the myth that immigrants have to reject their old culture and language in order to learn English and assimilate," said Brent Wilkes, national executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens.

Wilkes said today's Latino immigrants learn English faster than German, Irish and Italian immigrants did a century ago, without TV.
An immigrant who actually went through the assimilation process and learned English is "ignorant" on "immigration issues"? That bought Mr. Wilkes a boat-load of credibility.

Secondly, speaking of perpetuating myths, who is even hinting that Hispanic immigrants must "reject their old culture and language in order to learn English and assimilate?" Talk about a classic strawman.

And, of course, you expect to hear from the Spanish language media, don't you?
"Spanish-language media plays the essential roles of providing the Hispanic community with the news and information they need and care about, and keeping them connected to their cultural heritage," a said the Univision spokeswoman, who declined to provide her name.

"In addition to daily news from around the world, Spanish speakers rely on Spanish-language media for information in critical situations, such as severe weather alerts and health emergencies, and for other public services they may not be able to get anywhere else," the spokeswoman said.
All of that has what bearing on what will help "Hispanic children improve academic performance"? None, of course.

Again, remember Schwarzenegger was speaking to an Hispanic media group, so their reactions, quite frankly, were predictable:
"I'm sitting shaking my head not believing that someone would be so naive and out of it that he would say something like that," Alex Nogales, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition.

Rafael Olmeda, president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, said most NAHJ members would agree with the governor's statements.

"Most people I've spoken to walked away believing that he was trying to say that we must learn English to succeed in American society," Olmeda said.
That's precisely what he was saying. The problem was he was saying it to a group that has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo since their livelihood depends on a large audience that speaks Spanish exclusively.

Imagine that.

UPDATE: Naturally (and not unexpectedly), Amanda Marcotte also seems to miss the point completely in order to indulge in a cheap shot:
But more to the point, Schwarzenegger—who hasn’t managed to shake his own Austrian accent well enough for the standards he lays out—doesn’t really go to much effort to hide his hostility towards the idea that Mexican-Americans might cherish bilingualism.
Hostility? Streeeeetch anyone? And not even a good one. She goes on:
No one disputes the idea that children of immigrants would do well to learn English, but anyone with a modicum of education in how language acquistion works will know that children who speak English in school will learn it.
No, no one disputes it, but that wasn't the question, was it Amanda? The question was "how Hispanic students can improve academic performance". The answer is learn English, early and quickly. Finally mastering it somewhere in the 5th grade is probably too late. And that's the Gov's point. Want to improve academic performance? Totally immerse your children in the language in which they're going to be taught.

Make sense?

This however, was her "best" line, so to speak:
I wish I could chalk up our national inability to grasp that it’s a good thing to know more than one language to the simple fact of geography ...
Well gee Amanda, they already know Spanish. Unlike you Arnie's actually suggesting they become bilingual. Capisce?

UPDATE II: The advantages of total immersion when learning a second language?
* Early immersion students lag behind their monolingual peers in literacy (reading, spelling, and punctuation) for the first few years only. However, after the first few years, the immersion students catch up with their peers.
* Immersion programs have no negative effects on spoken skills in the first language.
* Early immersion students acquire almost-native-like proficiency in passive skills' (listening and reading) comprehension of the second language by the age of 11.
* Early immersion students are more successful in listening and reading proficiency than partial and late immersion students.

* Immersion programs have no negative effects on the cognitive development of the students.
* Monolingual peers perform better in sciences and math at an early age, however immersion students eventually catch up with, and in some cases, outperform their monolingual peers.
The point? The earlier, the better.
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
Arnold should call the FBI again and ask then to arrest the Californian politicians who started a ’mob’ running illegal aliens work and making the lack of law enforcement a responsability that the US must always pay. The illegal immigrants are not responsible if the US won’t follow it’s own laws, but the US is responsible for the California political mob that used the illegal immigrants.

So, maybe FBI should arrest the California politcial mobs that used the illegal immigrants.
 
Written By: VDE
URL: http://
It is ironic that half-way across the globe, Chinese parents are paying top money for their children English lessons, in hope that it would give them an advantage in the world market. But here, in the US, we refuse to give children the very tools that they need to survive in a modern economy.
 
Written By: Minh-Duc
URL: http://
I’ve got a rule, or at least a guideline, to follow links. It became necessary around the time that Rick/Glen/Ellers von Greenwald/Legion started coming into his infamy/embracing himself and his destiny. Turned out that the links would often say the opposite of Wilson/Ellensberg/Wordy McWorthless claimed they did. That being said, I do have reservations about links to Marcotte. Not for misogonystic reasons; although by being male I am naturally, irrevocably and irredmably an evil hate monkey-man-pig, but because I truly doubt the gender status of said Marcotte.

That’s a guy in a dress.

Look at the jawline, look at the over-the-top, kind’a fey gestures or at the "I’m more female than you" rants. Look at the middlin’ to poor comprehension of feminism despite that being the only course taken.

Now, I’ve been kicked out of more schools than I care to remember, but in the all-boys schools there was always someone like this Marcotte thing. Usually not as vocal about it, and most of the time they grew out of it or sublimated their issues.

My take: botched surgery, performed by a man causing all sorts of problems best solved by stranding on an ice floe (assuming we still have those because, ya’ know, Al Gore says we don’t.)
 
Written By: Uncle Pinky
URL: http://
Minh-Duc,

Thank you. That was brilliantly concise and I’m going to steal it and use it and I owe you a beer for putting it so neatly.
 
Written By: Uncle Pinky
URL: http://
But here, in the US, we refuse to give children the very tools that they need to survive in a modern economy.
We even fail to generally condemn the idea that public officials shouldn’t encourage them to get those tools privately. The "La Raza" types should be marginalized, not coddled with separatist graduation ceremonies.

It’s more than moral stamina that the age of aquarius cost us, for all that I think it was just a balloon payment on the "progressive" house of cards society has been buying into for the last hundred years.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
This situation does illustrate rather well, the problem that I’ve had with the immigration debate thus far; the assumption is always made that the immigrants want to adopt American culture as their own , including language. This illustrates rather well that they do not.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger demonstrated his ignorance on immigration issues once again by perpetuating the myth that immigrants have to reject their old culture and language in order to learn English and assimilate," said Brent Wilkes, national executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens.
What’s the Spanish word for "strawman"? Schwarzenegger never said immigrants had to give up their cultures, just that they’d learn English more quickly if they immerse themselves in it. It works for languages other than English...and English-speakers don’t give up their cultures when they use it.
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://steverino.journalspace.com/
anyone with a modicum of education in how language acquistion works will know that children who speak English in school will learn it.

And those who use it at home as well as at school will learn it faster. It’s not that difficult a concept, Amanda.

(and dearie, and while we’re on the topic of English and the mastery thereof, it’s spelled acquisition).
 
Written By: Achillea
URL: http://
Dear Lord, McQ, it’s Amanda "Christofascistgodbag" Marcotte, for pity’s sake. We’re not talking someone who even rises to the level of "mental midget." She couldn’t even stay employed for a month by the Breck Girl...

... Oh. Comedy relief. I see now. All serious all the time maketh a dull blog.

My bad. Carry on.
 
Written By: The Gonzman
URL: http://
I could never understand how people could read Amanda Marcotte. To me it was like a performance of the Vagina Monologues by someone which a severe case Tourette’s syndrome.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
To learn a language you have to live and eat the language including TV. Arnold is right.
 
Written By: Tom William
URL: http://learnspanishlikecrazy.org

 
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