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« Food stamp nation | Main | Bond fight goes to court »

Feb 11, 2010


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>>...Mateo was sent to a conference room, the suit says, where Assistant Principal Kimberly Vaught told Mateo she knew Mateo could empathize with the parents because she "crossed the border just like them." .

Nice, coming on top of a refusal to deal with the parent of a child who might have been assaulted on school property.

Are there First Amendment implications in being forbidden to speak in a certain langauge?

Brandon Burgess

You can't teach Spanish-speaking individuals how to speak English by just speaking English to them.

I understand the logic of English being the defacto language of the USA. What I don't get is the reluctance on the part of so many Americans who proudly proclaim that they only know one language.

I've known so many folks that these Americans would look down on and many of them speak multiple languages.

I think if any kid wishes to be successful in America, learning both English and Spanish is imperative. This applies to citizens and immigrants.

I have to admit though, I am not a fluent speaker of Spanish. Hell, I can barely get through greetings and basic questions but it seems a necessity to learn both English and Spanish.

Interestingly, I found that learning Spanish led to a better understanding of the mechanics of my own language. I was lucky enough to attend a private school for one year in grade school where I was introduced to diagraming sentences and also the study of the Latin language. As I understand, many students used to study these things in America but not so much these days.

Ed Cone

I was not very good at Latin when I took it in middle school, shortly after the fall of Rome, but it benefits me to this day.

I wish I spoke Spanish.

If I could design a curriculum, it would include Spanish and Chinese at an early age, and a couple of years of Latin along the way.


I agree learning Spanish is imperative. I grew up surrounded by Spanish speakers, but my grandparents did not see knowing Spanish as a plus and so my cousins, brother and I never learned it directly from our family. Instead I spent 8 years studying it and studying abroad in Ecuador. It was worth every penny...but its painful to think I could've learned it for free.


I must confess to being a language dunce. I was disastrous in high school Latin. I tried both German and Russian in college. Total disasters. I remember hours spent parroting, but not understanding, in language labs. The experiences spooked me about learning other languages. Now, I regret it, if for no other reasons than it constrains the travel choices I might make.

David Wharton

"If I could design a curriculum, it would include Spanish and Chinese at an early age, and a couple of years of Latin along the way."

I love you, man.


I wish I spoke Spanish... Hell, I wish I spoke English.


I endorse the Cone curriculum.

[[You can't teach Spanish-speaking individuals how to speak English by just speaking English to them.]]

You can if you talk about the right things in the right way and if the individuals in question are very young. That's how language-immersion instruction programs work. Sort of.

But grownups? Not so much.


You have it backwards. Diversity isn't a one way street. Perhaps the parents should participate in the diversity by learning English.

Fred Gregory


Keep this in mind: "Merda taurorum animas conturbit"


That secretary deserves a raise,and damages awarded.


So, what about this situation Sam? The administrators tell the parents to go away, and come back to have their conversation only once they've learned some English?


Parent: "Mi hijo debe abandonar la escuela. Él tiene la gripe porcina."

Spag-approved secretary: "Come back when you can speak English."


A compromise is in order. Tell the parents they can come back with their children, who will be permitted to act as translators.

In fsct, why not set up classes wwhere the brightest of those children, many of whom are american citizens by birth, can teach ESL for those poor, pitiful discriminated-against parents, who can't function as members of this society, regardless of their immigration status?

Jim Buie

As an American living in Turkey, I can't imagine the Turks at any school declaring that "only Turkish should be spoken," and firing a secretary for speaking English to parents like myself. Nor could I imagine any Turk expressing hostility at resident foreigners who don't speak Turkish. I would consider that a hostile environment. In fact, the Turks have BEGGED me to teach English, and pay a premium to native speakers. They understand that we now live in a global economy and as a result Turkey is an emerging economic powerhouse. It disturbs me that some Americans could be so narrow-minded that they would take such a hostile attitude toward Spanish-speakers or any other ethnic group. Such arrogant, isolationist and ethnocentric attitudes will cause us to lose our economic edge in the world, if it hasn't already.

Sure, English is a global language of business, but if you think the rest of the world needs to speak your language and learn your culture while you as an American remain largely deaf, dumb and blind to other languages and cultures, you are contributing to America's economic decline. One of America's greatest strengths is its cultural diversity.

I'm trying to practice what I preach, taking Turkish lessons and very s-l-o-w-l-y trying to carry on conversations. It's a struggle. I sure empathize with those Spanish-speakers in America who don't speak English. And I often depend on the kindness of strangers, Turks who take me by the arm and lead me to a friend of theirs who speaks English. I'm very grateful for their hospitality. It pains me that my own countrymen might be less hospitable, and indeed hostile, to the non-English-speakers in our midst.


I answer support email and I often get emails from people in other countries apologizing for their writing because English is their second language. I just shake my head at their apology, sad because I wish I had learned a second language even half as well, and because many times their emails are more coherent than some of the native English speakers I hear from.

Brandon Burgess

Spag is hitting on an important point. Many, many, of the Montagnard and Viet kids I know are fluent in English while their parents are not. This means, bad report card? Mom wont know the difference. Kid gets arrested for stealing cars? Dad sits through the trial not understanding that his son will be gone for the next 5 years. Sure, there are court translators, but if the translator doesn't know the dialect, he/she is useless.

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