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September 27, 2005

No English? No Problem!

Having problems learning English? You should live in L.A., where many immigrants are finding they don't need to bother with it. And it's not just Spanish:

In ethnically diverse Los Angeles, many immigrants find that learning Korean, Spanish or Mandarin is more important than English.

Manuel Aliga, a Peruvian immigrant, has spent years studying Korean. He runs a store that sells soccer supplies in Koreatown.


Martin Paik, a Seoul native who emigrated to Los Angeles by way of Argentina, does not speak English. He writes a column on conversational Spanish for the Korea Times.

In California, Spanish is more important than English, [said] Paik. "I haven't found any inconvenience because I don't speak English.

How long will it be before not only will you have to choose between English and Spanish on those annoying touch-tone phone menus, but other languages as well?

This recent article laments that only 9% of Americans are fluent in a language other than English, as compared to more than 50% of Europeans knowing a language other than their native one. Frankly, it makes more sense for Europeans to be bilingual, as it's easier (and therefore more common) for them to travel to other countries where a different language is spoken. This is not to say learning a foreign language isn't beneficial to Americans. However, we should be more concerned about those here in America (let's not count the illegals for the moment) who don't speak English.

When people come to America from other countries to settle, what do they have in common with their new neighbors? Other than a desire to live a better life than they could in their native land, often not much. Learning English helps immigrants create a bond with their adopted land much more quickly than they might otherwise. And, regardless of what some people in L.A. seem to think, knowing English makes living here a heck of a lot easier. We have the multicultural crowd to thank for this, as they don't seem to think American culture is good enough anymore. (In fact, I committed a gaffe in this post by saying "foreign" language instead of "world" language, as it is now termed in schools. Who stays up late at night thinking this stuff up?)

America has no "official language." It's time we did.

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Posted by Pam Meister at 12:51 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

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