English Only Policy Essay

English Only Law Essay

EFL 093-02 Name: Nhi Tran

Argumentative essay Due date: Thursday, May 8th, 2014

English: the Future

Nowadays, most of the countries have two national languages for central administrative purposes: their own language and English which is usually an associate official language. Not everyone live either in the United States of America or England. Dozens of distinctly different regional languages are spoken from each country, which share many characteristics such as grammatical structure and vocabulary, but the main language they speak is still supposed to be English. Apart from these languages, English is the first language for the people in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand. Also, English is the second language for many countries over the world; now is the first global language. English has been America's common language since its foundation. However, English is recently in danger of losing its status as a national language. What if a national language was put into law and the language that has been a part of the speaker's culture is abandoned? Would immigrants feel pressured in exchange for English in their homes? Even though making English the official language does not mean other languages cannot be used in day-to-day private life, but the debate on whether the United States should declare English as its official language has been a topic thoroughly discussed among the halls of Congress and Constitution for some time now (Headden, and Bernfeld). Countless people have challenged this policy at which several different companies in English since language has always been an important part of a media in humans' communication, a country's culture, and ways of life. It is an issue that affects millions of individuals and has implications that may not be entirely known to those that it most seriously affects. English only laws will really help the country in several ways. It will promote unity, empower immigrants and serve the public interest.

Certainly, the majority of English language learners fall into the category of one technique that is to simplify assimilation. Learning English will lead to assimilation, and assimilation is not all bad. The fact is the United States has no official language. However, Immigrants of many nationalities built the United States of America's nation, but the "melting pot" melded us into one people. Lawmakers have not chosen to declare English as their official language which can find themselves in a sticky situation. The language issue became a surrogate for the racial, cultural, and economic sentiments of many monolingual, native-born Americans that "the public debate about...

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English-Only Instruction in Public Schools

It's a debate that touches on cultural, economic, and educational issues. Should public schools in the U.S. teach only in English? Does such a requirement improve English learning and help children from different backgrounds intermingle? Does English-only instruction help students who are recent immigrants to be better prepared for college or employment? Or, might such policies slow the rate of English learning or even erode a student's sense of heritage?

These are complex questions that have no easy answers. This article provides a short overview of the English-only public school debate and focuses on current laws and policies. Information for consulting a lawyer is also provided below.

Visit FindLaw's School Curriculum Basics section for additional articles and resources.

The Debate over English-Only Instruction

Supporters of English-only laws argue that by allowing English-learning students to study in bilingual education programs, well-meaning schools actually do these students a disservice. The reasoning is that bilingual education programs inhibit their students' ability to learn English by allowing them to rely on their native languages in class. Proponents of English-only laws also argue that by requiring all students to learn and speak in one language, children are more likely to intermingle with each other, leading to well-rounded perspectives.

Opponents argue that it's inconclusive whether English-only instruction helps students to learn English more effectively than bilingual education programs. Supporters of bilingual programs believe that the programs meet the critical need of immigrant students for basic English instruction, and supporters further argue that putting students who speak little to no English into classes with native speakers only leads to mutual frustration. Some people question whether English-only instruction may lead some immigrant students to feel a loss of heritage.

English as the Official Language

While the federal government does not recognize an official language, roughly 30 states have passed laws designating English as the official language. A few states have gone further by requiring their public schools to teach only in English.

English-only Education Laws

The federal government sets education standards and goals through laws such as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, and it occasionally uses the threat of reduced funding to compel states to comply. However, education policy and curriculum is set at the state and local level.

Only a few states have passed English-only education laws, although there have been failed efforts in other states. For example, in 1998, California voters enacted a proposition that requires the state's schools to teach only in English and to stop providing bilingual education programs, subject to certain exceptions. Although test scores of English-learning students rose after the proposition was passed, a report submitted to the California Department of Education after five years of review stated that there was no conclusive proof that English-only instruction was the cause of the rising scores. In 2014, California's legislature passed a law to end the state's experiment with English-only instruction (schedule to take effect in 2017).

Other states that have also passed English-only education laws include Arizona in 2000 and Massachusetts in 2002. However, Colorado voters rejected an English-instruction initiative in 2006, as did Oregon voters in 2008.

Note that while English-only laws have similar purposes, there are important differences in their scope and exceptions. For example, California's law (as mentioned, amendments will take effect in 2017 that end the English-only requirement) contains vague wording that some school districts interpreted as providing wide leeway to continue bilingual education classes. California's law also provides various waivers for parents who want their child to learn in a bilingual environment. On the other hand, Arizona's law is much tighter, stating that English is the language for public school instruction and containing a provision that allows school districts to deny waiver requests for bilingual instruction, without explanation.

Consulting With an Attorney

If you live in a state that has passed or is considering passing an English-only instruction law, an attorney can help you to understand the law or bill's application and how it may affect your child. For example, an attorney can explain your options if you want your child to receive instruction in a second language, and he or she can help you to prepare a waiver petition. You can consult with an attorney who specializes in education law through FindLaw.

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