CRP Blog

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Governor's Absolutely Right On English -- Personal Experience

Governor Schwarzenegger's advice to Latinos that learning English is critical to success was absolutely spot on, if not politically correct. This is something I know first hand.

As immigrants, my parents spoke German at home for their first nearly 10 years in this country, so as I learned to speak, my first vocabulary was entirely German.

According to my father, my parents quickly realized that in order to succeed in America, my primary langauge had to be English -- so they stopped speaking German (their native language) entirely when at home, ensuring I'd learn English as my primary language instead.

Learning English as one's primary language doesn't mean casting away one's culture or heritage -- or even ancestral language. People who can speak more than one language have a certain advantage, which is why we stress foreign language learning in our schools.

Yet, mastering the language is different than simplying "knowing" it, and one rarely masters a second language to the same degree as one's primary language. The Governor recognizes this, and should be commended for his courage in sharing his views on success to an audience of Latino journalists who clearly have a diversity of opinions on the issue.

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