Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who reportedly equated bilingual education with “the language of living in a ghetto” in a recent speech, has offered an acknowledgement on You Tube that his words “produced a bad feeling within the Latino community” and that “the words I chose to express myself were not the best.” This Week in Education made note of Mr. Gingrich’s clarification yesterday.
What’s most surprising to me about Mr. Gingrich’s acknowledgement, though, is that he offers it in Spanish. What I just wrote in the previous paragraph is a translation that appears in subtitles on the video clip of Mr. Gingrich’s clarification. I had no idea that Mr. Gingrich was studying Spanish, and that he could speak it (or perhaps read it?) for nearly three minutes.
I called up Mr. Gingrich’s public relations firm, Gingrich Communications, (I found it through newt.org) to ask just how serious Mr. Gingrich is in learning Spanish. Joe DeSantis, the director of communications for the firm, said Mr. Gingrich has taken about 100 hours of Spanish with a private tutor, mostly in the last six months.
In his clarification, Mr. Gingrich emphasizes the importance of learning English and says that bilingual education classes in this country should be replaced with “intensive English instruction courses.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.