Should English Be Formally Recognized as America's Official Language?

February 9, 2011
By stephoto BRONZE, Menlo Park, California
stephoto BRONZE, Menlo Park, California
4 articles 3 photos 2 comments

America abides by “E pluribis unum—out of many, one—this means that, while [Americans] come from all over the globe, [they] are also united” and “share the American dream of success through hard work, cherish our many freedoms, and champion political equality." But like Linda Chavez, Chairman for the center for Equal Opportunity and President of One Nation Indivisible, states, Americans’ “common bonds must also include an ability to communicate with one another” through the language that over half the states in the U.S. consider to be America’s official language: English. According to author James Crawford, “English has always been [America’s] common language, a means of resolving conflicts in a nation of diverse racial, ethnic, and religious groups. Reaffirming the preeminence of English means reaffirming a unifying force in American life.” Which is why a constitutional amendment deeming English America’s official language would not infringe upon American values; rather, it would be an economically and politically “practical” reform welcomed by both native English speakers and non-English speakers.

Mandating English as America’s official language would be an economically and politically beneficial move that would encourage—rather than challenge—democratic values. The reform could potentially reinforce the unity and universal representation embedded in the democracy this nation was founded upon. Enforcing a common dialect could aid non-English speaking Americans in comprehending the “incomprehensible” “public discourse” and “’send a message’ to immigrants, encouraging them to join in rather than remain apart”. That is, having an official language could inspire immigrants to “join in” on more of the social and democratic aspects of the U.S., rather than become ostracized due to the inability to communicate. As Theodore Roosevelt says, having an official language would “[turn] our people out as Americans, and American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polygot boarding house.” Moreover, Chavez points out the fact that because so many have accepted and adopted English as America’s official language, “there are few citizens who need ballots and election materials printed for the in languages other than English. The requirement that, nonetheless, such materials must be printed is therefore wasteful…in sum, as simple matters of dollar and sense, bilingual ballots are not worth it. The money would be far better spent on improving election equipment and combating voter fraud.” Ergo, instating English as the official language of the U.S. is not only consistent with democratic values, but also politically and economically advantageous as well.

Making English the official language of America would hardly be an extreme move. Currently, twenty-eight states—over half the country—have already formally recognized English to be their official language. More importantly, Americans want the reform: not only have English speakers like Theodore Roosevelt expressed a desire to deem English the official language of America, but “immigrant groups are, in fact, very motivated to learn English”. According to “a survey of 2,817 Americans of Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban descent,” over “90% of the respondents believe U.S. citizens and residents should learn English.” Non-English speakers “see lack of opportunity, not lack of motivation, as the primary barrier to acquiring English,” a statement “confirmed by the thousands of prospective [English Second Language] students who are regularly turned away because there are not enough classes to accommodate them.” Mandating English as America’s official language would likely inspire the creation of more ESL programs to teach the language to the non-English speaking citizens who have been denied of the opportunity. Therefore, because English has already been successfully treated as America’s official language and mandating it as such is a generally welcomed reform, English should be sanctioned as the official language of America.

As James Crawford states, “English” is the key to “economic advancement” and “an essential tool of social mobility” for American citizens.” Mandating English as America’s official language could become aid in unifying native-speakers with immigrants, and aid these immigrants in obtaining more opportunities. Furthermore, English is already widely regarded as America’s official language, so formalizing it as such would not be a radical decision. In fact, both native English-speaking Americans and non-speakers are enticed by the reform, which would offer more eager immigrants the chance to learn the language. By this logic, making English the official language of America would be a positive choice.

The author's comments:
english, language, people, right, opinion

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This article has 2 comments.

on Feb. 16 2011 at 6:05 pm
stephoto BRONZE, Menlo Park, California
4 articles 3 photos 2 comments
I appreciate that, thank you so much :) 

on Feb. 16 2011 at 3:39 pm
K.a.t.h.l.e.e.n. SILVER, Plymouth, Massachusetts
6 articles 0 photos 58 comments

Favorite Quote:
See everything, Overlook a lot, Correct a little.

I agree. Great points and sources, I love the Roosevelt quote. Keep Writing! :)


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