Meta-Blog

SEARCH QandO

Email:
Jon Henke
Bruce "McQ" McQuain
Dale Franks
Bryan Pick
Billy Hollis
Lance Paddock
MichaelW

BLOGROLL QandO

 
 
Recent Posts
The Ayers Resurrection Tour
Special Friends Get Special Breaks
One Hour
The Hope and Change Express - stalled in the slow lane
Michael Steele New RNC Chairman
Things that make you go "hmmmm"...
Oh yeah, that "rule of law" thing ...
Putting Dollar Signs in Front Of The AGW Hoax
Moving toward a 60 vote majority?
Do As I Say ....
 
 
QandO Newsroom

Newsroom Home Page

US News

US National News
Politics
Business
Science
Technology
Health
Entertainment
Sports
Opinion/Editorial

International News

Top World New
Iraq News
Mideast Conflict

Blogging

Blogpulse Daily Highlights
Daypop Top 40 Links

Regional

Regional News

Publications

News Publications

 
Obama and a second language
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Yesterday, at a stop in GA, Obama made reference to how embarrassing it was that Americans were so frustratingly sold on English - to the point that some of them even want it to be declared the official language.

Instead, Obama thinks we should make it a priority for our children learn a second language - like Spanish.

Americans, however, disagree:
Broken down along party lines, 79% of Republicans and 59% of Democrats reject the idea that all Americans should know multiple languages. Among unaffiliated voters, 68% say their fellow citizens do not need to know a language other than English.
Here's a thought Mr. Obama - why don't we concentrate on making our children functional in English first and then, if they have time and desire to do so, they can worry about a second language.
 
TrackBacks
Return to Main Blog Page
 
 

Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
Agreement.

But it seems to me just as important that peopel coming to this country learn how to speak English... a point neither Obama nor McCain seems to understand.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
Learning a second language is a good thing, although perhaps not a top priority for most Americans.

More important, perhaps, is that we should expect Americans to speak English and not require Spanish voting ballots, etc.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
As a purely pedalogical point, and not meaning to imply that His Messiahness is actually correct about something—
I was taught grammar throught elementary and middle school. However, I did not actually learn grammar until I started studying a foreign language (in my case, German).
This was in the late sixties/early seventies, when teachers could still be relied upon to actually teach the subjects for which they were hired.
 
Written By: kishnevi
URL: http://kishnevi.wordpress.com
As one who majored in three foreign languages in college and lived as many years abroad, I’m all for learning foreign languages. However, comparing us to continental Europeans is just silly. We won the linguistic lottery, so for us, learning a foreign language is a luxury. For them, it’s a necessity.
 
Written By: Xrlq
URL: http://xrlq.com/
I saw little in the video that bothered me; I was annoyed by his saying that he is embarrassed by Americans who are unable to speak in the local language when in Europe and his assertion that children should learn Spanish, but I was annoyed principally because those was impolitic and foolhardy things to say, not by the substance twisted into them. I quite think that there ought be more care and dedication to the learning of other languages by Americans, but this is problematic because immersion is almost always necessary to attain anything even approaching fluency and immersion is a luxury only close at hand, in most parts of the country, in the case of Spanish. I am not, however, favorably disposed, perhaps excepting programs for certain vital languages operated by intelligence and diplomatic agencies, toward the sort of federal affair that seems implicit in a candidate for the Presidency advocating language learning.

I think that the free market will attend to languages appropriately just as it can so well attend so many other things. English owes its ubiquity chiefly to two things: firstly that the people who spoke it ranged and conquered widely; secondly that English speakers have for so long commanded so much wealth. Within the language the dialects of those who command the most wealth have a like status, hence the inferior status of and disdain shown toward rural dialects and the dialects of the urban poor. As long as it is the language of some large portion of the elite, English will remain a prestige language. The people of the United States, native and immigrant, will speak and learn as best serves their prosperity. I suspect that declaring official languages will do scarcely more than the Government of Zimbabwe’s declaration of inflation being illegal and might have some ill symbolic consequence.
 
Written By: Paludicola
URL: http://www.vikinghats.com
Personally, I am rather happy that many foreign governments provide documents and forms that are in English. For example, my Taiwan income tax form is bilingual. I can also get immunization records in English here.

My Taiwanese wife will be immigrating to the US next year - and I also found it very nice to have California driving rules in Chinese form, downloadable on PDF. I suspect its probably good for the public as well that my wife actually understands what the rules are. (She speaks English fairly well, but I think some bureaucratese could flummox even native speakers.)

I sympathize with the English only concept, but I suspect that is really more about Spanish Spanish Spanish than about ballots in Russian or whatever. Talking with fellow Californians, I find even the bluest liberals bemoaning the massive wave of immigrants from Latin America. I am not sure what to do about that either. I’d point out that they do eventually learn English though I guess there could be some tipping point where Spanish could take over.

If we do go with English only, I would suggest creating two versions of documents, one in regular English, and one in more simpler English. Probably would be good for some native speakers, too.


 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
why don’t we concentrate on making our children functional in English first and then, if they have time and desire to do so, they can worry about a second language.
Because you don’t get any of the Latino vote that way. Offering to remove their need to learn English might help...
 
Written By: Ryan
URL: http://
Can we pander to latinos?

Si, se Puede!
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
I agree, learn English first. Everyone else who came to this country had to. Why do we need to change it now?
 
Written By: Reader
URL: http://
Because everyone is scared of losing the latino vote
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Wow. This site has become a parody of itself.

Most every right-wing talkiing point regarding Obama’s statements has been mentioned in the comments. Awesome.

Obama wants kids to learn a second language. Preferably Spanish. Wants them to learn the language of the country adjacent to us that speaks a different language. That makes our stuff. A country with which we have a major trade agreement, and with which we share a major border.

And the wingnut complaint?

Wingnuts think he is a traitor for even making the suggestion.

Barack hates America!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Classic.

 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Here’s a thought Mr. Obama - why don’t we concentrate on making our children functional in English first and then, if they have time and desire to do so, they can worry about a second language.
McQ is a hard-core dead-ender. A faithful acolyte of Bush. You know, Bush. That master of the English language.

And he has the nerve to lecture Obama on trying to make kids functional in English.

Whatever your feeling about Obama, McQ, he is an inspiration with respect to the English language. Eloquent. I suspect many kids will be motivated by the articulate manner in which he speaks. Learn to love the language.

By contrast, your boy Bush is a moron. An idiot. And yet you seem to have had no problem with the example he has set for our kids. I have not seen a post from you on the bad example he is setting for our kids when it comes to speaking English. Not one.

 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
I am fluent in English and Spanish, and I admit, it’s been dang handy, as there are many, many clients and potential clients in this area who only speak Spanish and who prefer a lawyer who speaks their language. So, good for me. But let’s be honest. It’s bad for them. Until they learn English they are insulated and isolated from the majority of things, culture and otherwise. Their employment options are limited. They are at a disadvantage pretty much every day.

It’s much more crucial that unilingual Spanish speakers in the US learn a second language (English) than that rich-enough-to-travel uniligual English speakers in the US learn a second language so they won’t be thought a boor by Europeans.
 
Written By: Bench
URL: http://
Bilingual education is a joke. After 8 years of it through grade school in Ontario, you get maybe one high school level semester out of it.

The only people I knew who learned a second language to an acceptable level are either immersed in the language at home or their neighborhoods, or studied the language several hours a day 4-5 days a week.

Any programs offered would be a huge waste of time or would necessarily take time away from english, math, etc.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
In Fact, Barak Husein, I speak Latin, High German, Old Norse, Irish Gaelic, and Spanish - of the Mexican variety, and not the Castillian taught in most High Schools.

I merely REFUSE to speak Spanish while in my own country.

Illegals should not confuse, however, a refusal to speak it with an inability to do so.

Hmm. On the other hand, ignore that. The insights one gains when the racist illegals think the Güero can’t understand them is most illuminating.
 
Written By: The Gonzman
URL: http://
McQ is a hard-core dead-ender. A faithful acolyte of Bush.
Speaking of parodies - you are still the most brilliant one going, MK.

I know most of your life revolves around blaming everything on Bush (I’m not sure what you’ll do when you finally realize he’s not running), but this is about something Obama said. You got that part didn’t you?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Obama can’t speak a foreign language.
 
Written By: Bandit
URL: http://
I suspect many kids will be motivated by the articulate manner in which he speaks
Now, now MK... last year when Bush said Obama was eloquent, he was called a racist. You know, because it was surprising that a black man could be eloquent. So can we hold you to the same standard?
By contrast, your boy Bush is a moron. An idiot.
My, my, my... your level of discourse is dropping these days.
Obama wants kids to learn a second language. Preferably Spanish.
He said he was embarrassed that kids don’t speak more than one language. The comments above point out some of the reasons we’re not a country of multi-linguals. But you call them ’right wing talking points’. Are you bi-lingual? I took Spanish all through school, then never used it. I can ask for a cervesa, but that’s about it. As an adult though, I married a Brazilian and learned Portuguese so I could travel freely through her country. And to think, I did it without government assistance! Oh the humanity!
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
Wingnuts think he is a traitor for even making the suggestion.
Not really. Personally, I don’t even think that’s the biggest story here. It’s not what he thinks that’s at issue here. For one thing, he’s changed his official position on things in the last few months more often than I’ve changed socks in my entire lifetime. With all the changing of opinion from him I’ve no proof if he even beleives what he says or not.

But clearly, he’s trying to say what he thnks his base wants to hear. It’s what his supporters think... the opinions of whose votes he’s pandering for, that I find troubling. He’s just pulling the Clintonesque move of trying to figure out which way the parade is going, so he can be in front, and so appear to be LEADING said parade come voting time.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
I’m confused. I thought the Obamessiah wanted us all to learn Newspeak.
 
Written By: Bilwick
URL: http://
Bandit,

Obama speaks Indonesian. He went to grade school there. Don’t know about his Spanish.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
I’ve got mixed feelings on this one.

First, I think English needs to be the official language of the US. The Canadian experience with Quebec ought to dissuade us of any multilingual aspirations for the US. I don’t have any problem with any private organization catering to its customers in any language, even if that means "press 1 for English." Official business should be English only.

I took two years of High School French and German and never used them. That was a waste, but the ability to learn a foreign language will atrophy if it isn’t used. From that perspective, I’m grateful I had the opportunity.

Analogous to meagain, I married a Japanese girl. I met her while teaching some volunteer English classes while I was stationed in Japan. The class liked me, because I had a decent knowledge of English grammar, courtesy of some tough nuns. It certainly didn’t hurt that I took the Japanese classes offered through the University of Maryland extension program and I could understand some of what they were saying in their language. I’m not what I consider fluent, but I can get around, order a meal, buy things, almost always understand what people are asking me, and ask directions without the other party knowing one word of English. I don’t have the vocabulary or know enough Kanji to be considered fluent, but I persist. It makes being in Japan less stressful when we visit. I can go to the city with the kids while my wife stays home with her sister or brother.

My wife insisted on taking the written test for her driver’s license in English. I think it is insanity to allow anyone who doesn’t understand our road signs and the cautionary alerts to drive here. Likewise, since only citizens can vote, multilingual ballots are a bad idea. My wife is even more insistent than I about this. Well, she’s lived here over half her life and is a citizen. Her opinion is better than mine. She’s lived it.
 
Written By: MarkD
URL: http://
My wife is even more insistent than I about this. Well, she’s lived here over half her life and is a citizen. Her opinion is better than mine. She’s lived it.
My wife agrees with yours. She is adamant about learning the language of her host country, and is fluent in English, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. All on her own, out of her own desire to adapt. When she meets someone who has lived here for an extended amount of time who speaks only their native tongue, it frustrates the bejesus out of her.

Let me ask the question another way... of all the countries in the world, how many of them have an ’official’ language?
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
"Dude, you’re failing English. It’s, like, your mother tongue."

Probably the most obscure movie quote ever. Name it and you, uhh, win something.
I’m confused. I thought the Obamessiah wanted us all to learn Newspeak.
Well played, sir...
 
Written By: rob
URL: http://
mkultra:
Whatever your feeling about Obama, McQ, he is an inspiration with respect to the English language.
Funny thing is...Bush, "the moron" by your reckoning, actually speaks Spanish. Your Obamspiration, the brilliant, the Messianic, doesn’t. What a hypocrite.
 
Written By: marybel
URL: http://
Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, in an article yesterday wrote that Obama doesn’t speak Spanish. Check it out for yourself.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/08/AR2008070802781.html?hpid=opinionsbox1
 
Written By: marybel
URL: http://
Funny thing is...Bush, "the moron" by your reckoning, actually speaks Spanish
That is merely a detail to be ignored Marybel. And you can pretty much forget about getting a response from mk at this point. He/She/It is long gone, waiting for the next McQ post to troll on.
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
I have read that President Bush has limited proficiency in Spanish, being able to utter scattered words and sentences, but he is either fluent nor highly proficient. Jeb Bush, by contrast, is purportedly quite able with Spanish.

I hadn’t considered that Obama might speak Bahasa Indonesia, or any of the other languages spoken in Jakarta, although given that he left the place when he was quite young, I am slightly skeptical of how much he might have retained without regular use of the tongue.
 
Written By: Paludicola
URL: http://www.vikinghats.com
I am surprised. No mention at all of Ebonics.


"he is an inspiration with respect to the English language"

Your standards are low, but I suspect what you really mean is that he sounds white.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I am Hispanic, and I speak Spanish. I learned English 4 years ago, when I immigrated to the United States. Now I am also fluent in French. So I’m trilingual.

You English-only people have no idea how useful and rewarding it is to speak more than one language. Better jobs and better opportunities are what my knowledge of 3 languages has given me. I’m more academically competitive than the vast majority of monolingual persons in the US.

Obama said "We should have every child speaking more than one language." He didn’t say we should FORCE everyone to exclusively learn Spanish.

Sadly, racism is the only reason some of you are making a huge deal out of this, saying that it is unfair because it would be helping the poor and hard-working Hispanic immigrants be assimilated.

And for those who are just exaggerating and saying Obama was so mean by offending Americans, calling them "stupid" compared to Europeans, open your eyes. It is true. Europeans are so ahead of us in THAT sense.

For a better future for our American children, we should support their learning of a second or even third language.
 
Written By: maria
URL: http://
Now I am also fluent in French. So I’m trilingual.
Congratulations.
Obama said "We should have every child speaking more than one language." He didn’t say we should FORCE everyone to exclusively learn Spanish.
And no one here said he made such a statement did they?
Sadly, racism is the only reason some of you are making a huge deal out of this, saying that it is unfair because it would be helping the poor and hard-working Hispanic immigrants be assimilated.
And of course, this is an accusation made, by you, with no basis in fact. It is simply the usual red herring deployed by those who use such baseless accusation to stifle debate. It won’t work here.
And for those who are just exaggerating and saying Obama was so mean by offending Americans, calling them "stupid" compared to Europeans, open your eyes. It is true. Europeans are so ahead of us in THAT sense.
As I recall he didn’t say a thing about American’s being "stupid" - you’re the first one here making that claim. What he said is he was embarrassed by the fact that most Americans don’t speak a second language.

My reaction to that is "who cares" what embarrasses him? What has any of that to do with the presidency of the United States?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net

 
Add Your Comment
  NOTICE: While we don't wish to censor your thoughts, we do blacklist certain terms of profanity or obscenity. This is not to muzzle you, but to ensure that the blog remains work-safe for our readers. If you wish to use profanity, simply insert asterisks (*) where the vowels usually go. Your meaning will still be clear, but our readers will be able to view the blog without worrying that content monitoring will get them in trouble when reading it.
Comments for this entry are closed.
Name:
Email:
URL:
HTML Tools:
Bold Italic Blockquote Hyperlink
Comment:
   
 
Vicious Capitalism

Divider

Buy Dale's Book!
Slackernomics by Dale Franks

Divider

Divider