What’s the Proper Role for English in the USA?

By Mary Ann Zehr — September 04, 2008 1 min read
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While I try to place some calls to Republican Party leaders and see if I can find out what they mean when their party platform advocates an “English First approach” for schools, let me leave you to ponder these two very different opinions about what role English should have in this country.

First, I excerpt a comment posted on this blog this morning by Juan D. Garcia, an educator in a K-12 school system in California:

If "ALL English" were the solution, we [educators] would have succeeded long ago. Most "minority" students for the past 60 years have always been in ALL ENGLISH classrooms. China doesn't need Chinese to unify them; they have gladly learned English, Spanish and even Japanese in order to become successful. They are ripping us apart in the world market. Great job Washington; it is a great relief to know that our fearless leaders continue to debate over "ALL English" so that we at least have the common unifying language needed to be able to read "Made in China."

Next, I republish here a short commentary, “English is THE Language of Success--Even in France!,” penned by John Lillpop over at

While Barack Obama foolishly talks down to American citizens by telling parents to assure that their children can speak Spanish, the world is going in the exact opposite direction. Indeed, France is finally getting the message! As reported in the Daily Mail in England, Xavier Darcos, France's Education Minister, has now admitted for the first time that the secret to success is speaking better English, and says that poor English is a "handicap" because all international business is conducted in the language. Mr. Darcos added that he wanted to make it easier for all French students to learn English, saying that "while well-off families pay for study sessions abroad, I'm offering them to everyone right here." He went on to state that said French schools would offer extra English lessons during the holidays. How is it that the French can see the plain truth, while Hispanics and other advocates of bilingual mumbo-jumbo are so blinded to reality? Shall we blame it on racism, or stupidity? Or an unhealthy combination thereof? A word of wisdom to those still uncomfortable with English: Get over it! English is THE language needed to succeed throughout the world.

I invite others of you to weigh in on this important issue.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.