Archive for Thursday, February 8, 2007

Language skills

February 8, 2007

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To the editor:

The Feb. 1 article concerning English as the official language of Kansas, with comments by those opposed, brings back deeply held and felt memories.

Several years ago, my wife and I lived and worked in the many islands and atolls of Micronesia, many of which were hosts to Peace Corps volunteers, but their inhabitants knew little English. These energetic and eager young volunteer educators brought with them many of the talents and skills needed, but they knew next to nothing about the many different languages and dialects of these peoples.

Solution: The volunteers were quickly transported to outlying islands or remote locations where they were "force fed" the local language by living it in a family situation.

Result: In roughly two weeks, these Peace Corps volunteers were able to fulfill their purposes and objectives; i.e., they could communicate and teach. It should go without saying, but it is impossible to overemphasize, that assimilating oneself and learning the indigenous language is the only path to escape mediocrity.

Jim Winn,

Lawrence

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 3 months ago

"It should go without saying, but it is impossible to overemphasize, that assimilating oneself and learning the indigenous language is the only path to escape mediocrity."

Which is precisely what the vast majority of immigrants do, without the need of any xenophobic "English-only" laws.

number3of5 8 years, 3 months ago

Excuse me Mr. Winn. Just what is the indigenous language of the USA? Is it the English, French, Spanish, German, Irish or that of any of the other immigrants that discovered this new world? Or, could it possibly be that of the many and varied nations that lived here before any contact with the European nations? How about making Cherokee, Lakota, Navajo, or another native language the official language in a country that was
here before any of the English.

mom_of_three 8 years, 3 months ago

You can't compare a Peace Corp volunteer, who doesn't have to earn a living for his family, and an immigrant who does have to earn a living, about learning a foreign language. Who is going to support the family while the immigrant learns a foreign language for two weeks?? Who is going to care for their infants?
It's a nice thought, but finish thinking it through.

imastinker 8 years, 3 months ago

I think it is a great idea. You can learn a language at work.

It's the way this country has always been. English is the accepted language all over the US.

Jamesaust 8 years, 3 months ago

"where they were "force fed" the local language by living it in a family situation."

Funny. I believe the Nazis tried a similar approach. "Force fed" haha "living it in a family situation" - I'm all giggly now. Where can I catch this author doing stand up?

jonas 8 years, 3 months ago

"that assimilating oneself and learning the indigenous language is the only path to escape mediocrity."

Truth. Rest of the letter: somewhat specific and anecdotal in nature.

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