English Only Movement Essay

623 Words3 Pages
Unfortunately, the drawbacks of the English-Only movement only begin there. Along with the proven academic limitations of a unilingual education, discouraging other languages and cultures through establishing an official language would serve to devalue non-English tongues. Passing legislation such as the ELA further encourages Anglo-conformity by prioritizing English and simultaneously relegating other languages to a lesser status in American society. Swarthmore College linguist K. David Harrison spoke to NPR on the issue:
People really do value their languages and ... the decision to give up one language or to abandon a language is not usually a free decision. It 's often coerced by politics, by market forces, by the educational system
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Ratifying legislation such as the ELA conveys to the public that there is a supreme form of speech among the 350 languages spoken in the United States. As a result, it is simply not possible to assert one language as dominant and ‘better for communication’ without inherently demeaning all the others, as the English-only movement attempts to do. This deprecation of different languages pressures immigrants and citizens to assimilate by learning English and reject their mother tongue. As many Americans disregard their foreign roots in order to better fit in society, the nation grows further from the diverse democracy it was intended to be, which is anything but unifying.
The arguments in favor of the English-Only movement present some truths that I will concede to. I agree that immigrants who learn English are met with a myriad of economic and social opportunities they could not take advantage of prior to learning the language. I also agree that a common language can be unifying. But when this common tongue is forced upon a country that is home to hundreds of different cultures among its citizens (and where English is mostly spoken already), legislation such as the ELA pushes assimilation beyond the threshold necessary to communicate in our
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