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English Only?

Should One Be Required to Speak the Language of the Country One Wishes To Live In?

  • Yes

    Votes: 45 78.9%
  • No

    Votes: 12 21.1%

  • Total voters
    57

Pachipro

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Recently there has been a push here in the US for "English Only" where people should first learn English before entering and requesting any official services. One instance comes from here in Tennessee where I had to find the story in the NY Times as it was NOT on any of the news websites here in Tennessee. Click here for story. The vote was vetoed yesterday due to a technicality.

Also the LPGA here in the USA (Ladies Professional Golfers Association) has passed a rule that makes it MANDATORY for all foreigners to speak English and pass a test before participating in a tournament. Read story here. Again, not found on any local news sites although they reported it this morning!

Personally, I find this very discriminatory and racist. Could it be that recently the Korean ladies were taking most of the tournaments? I mean one could not watch an LPGA tournament here in the US without at least 5 Korean pro ladies in the top 10. Could it be that the US is being a cry baby, much as the Little League Baseball World Series was back 20-30 years ago where the Taipei Chinese won most of the tournaments? It got so bad that the cry baby US had to have two seperate tournaments, one for the international countries (gaijins) and one for the US where a US team would always be in the finals for the Little League World Series.

This is a little rediculous in my opinion. If this is held up, I would hope that Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Germany, etc, require that all US participants speak the native language of the country if they wish to participate in a tournament. It would only seem "fair" I cannot believe what a nation of sissies and cry babies the US has become. This is too unreal.

In Japan, one not need be a native speaker to find local services and it is not required that one speak the language to live there. If the US insists on passing such laws, then I hope Japan and all other countries respond in kind. I wonder then how many gaijin would be living in Japan if they HAD to speak the language of the native country? I guess not many as Japan, being an international country, can well accomodate foreigners even if they do not speak the language as is well known on this forum.

Many foreigner have lived in Japan many a year without even knowing the basics. The same should hold true of the US who proudly proclaim that they are the most tolerant nation on earth. I beg to differ after these two stories.
 

alantin

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I don't think it should be required although it does make life a lot easier..

I think the difference here is that English is an international language and Japanese isn't. Usually people, who can't speak Japanese, get by just fine in English (and I think the same goes for many other countries too) but I wonder how I would get by in Japan (or in the States!) speaking only Finnish..
 

Mycernius

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I do think that if you are going tol ive in a foreign country then you should at least make the effort of learning the language, especially if you are going to be there some time. I doubt I would get very far in say, France, if I had no knowledge or basics of the language.

To expect someone in their own country to speak your langauge, without making an effort to speak thiers, is arrogant. It is very prevalent amoungst native English speakers. Because English is such a widly spoken langauge the view seems to be why make the effort, someone there will speak English. I'm sure someone from Japan or Vietnam wouldn't expect everyone to be able to speak thier languages if they came to the UK, and would at least be able to say yes, no, and thank you (something I can do in French, German, Polish, Russian, Italian, Spanish and Japanese, and I'm not particularly good at languages), so I think that an English speaking tourist should be able to do that when going abroad.

If you wish to spend more time in that country, for work or to live for example, then it makes sense to become more au fait with the language. After all it would make your life easier when dealing with the general public, and I am sure most natives would help you if at least show willing.
 

Kinsao

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I basically agree with Mycernius. I think it's polite to learn the language of the country you are in - even as a tourist it's polite to try a few words, but if you're going to live and work there, I don't think it's even reasonable to expect to get very far without knowing the language! But I wouldn't go so far as to say it should be compulsory to learn it - that's too draconian for my liking and I don't like these kinds of orders from above. 😌 I just think that for most people, it becomes a lot more practical to learn the language anyway. I can't understand how people can get by without it, even if they don't go out to work. I think all countries should have free classes for immigrants to learn the 'host' language (I haven't figured out the best way of funding all this, but hey!).
 
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LPGA is a private organization. If they want to speak only Enlighs, Samoan, or whatever, they should have the right. Those who object don't have to patronize them.

I think the big issue in the US relates to government proceedings and services. That is a hard issue for me. There must be several thousand languages in the world, and speakers of most of them can be found in America. Are taxpayers supposed to pay to have a translator on staff for every language? Does that apply even to small-town governments? Where do you draw the line?

Here in Alaska several years ago, voters passed a ballot measure requiring English-only for government proceedings, services, and meetings. A Native Yupik (Eskimo) village in the northwest part of the state brought suit because they'd always held town meetings in their own language, and some members of the community spoke little or no English.

Framed in these terms, the issue seems pretty easy. A group descended from late-comers, mostly from England, try to force the long-term natives to speak their own language. Our state supreme court ruled that the law is unconstitutional -- putting an end to the story here, at least.
 

Glenski

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LPGA is an American group, is it not? What is so surprising that they require members to speak enough English to do interviews and communicate with sponsors (ka-ching opportunity) and give acceptance speeches and just plain interact with the other players?

Besides, if they can't pass a simple English test as that, they don't lose their golfing privileges permanently; it's just a suspension. They have a year to get ready, and this was foretold to them years ago, said another article.

How about citing the original article instead of some belligerent one, BTW?
http://www.golfweek.com/story/lpga-english-news-082508

The question about discrimination that should be raised is this -- why only the women's group of golfers?
 

Chidoriashi

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I am all for the US passing language requirement laws. I am sorry, but when i go to the store or restaurant in the US (despite the many nationalities represented there) I expect to be spoken to and dealt with in English. English was/is the dominant language in the US and people that want to live there for a long time should adhere to that.

And i would be all for Japan passing such laws for people that wanna live here a long time too. I get sick of getting ignored in places here, cuz they see my foreign face and immediately think i cannot utter so much as konnichiwa...
And i am fully aware that a high number of foreigners (Western ones) cannot communicate effectively in Japanese, but it would be my hope that new laws like that would start to change that, and the Japanese thinking that foreigners cannot speak and God forbid read their language.
 

Tomii515

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The way I see it, is that yes, you do.

If you want to visit Japan, and you don't speak Japanese, it's fine.
If you want to live there, I think it would be commen curtosy to speak the language of the land you have had the priviledge of living on.

Although, with the US, it's different.
There is not an official language.
Yeah, about 99% of places here (in the US) use English. But technically, there is no official language. Therefore, if you were to move you, I feel you don't need ot know how to speak it. Yeah, it would make life easier for you and other people aroudn you.
But if you didn't, you couldn't say "you're in america. u have to speak english" because the US's official language is not English.

However, In England, you should be required to speak English to live there.

Visiting is fine., You can get an interpreter. Living there is different....
 

Tsuyoiko

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I think there should be a requirement to speak the language of a country if you want to live there. I can't see any good reason not to, as it's bound to make life easier for everyone.

Speaking for the UK, I don't think we should always expect people to learn English (or Welsh in Wales) before we let them live here, particularly in the case of asylum seekers, but it should be a condition of their asylum that they learn English (or Welsh).

At the same time, I think we should protect indigenous languages and allow the native speakers to continue to use their language as they wish. Welsh is a good example. In Wales in 1993, Welsh was given equal status with English and is now compulsory in the school curriculum up to age 16. This seems to have gone a long way towards protecting the language, which I think is a good thing. Welsh has been spoken in this country for at least as long as English, and I think it's only right to give it equal status in the areas where it is spoken.

There is not an official language.

Even though that's true, don't most individual states have an official language? And I think for most of those it's English. So I think if you want to live in Hawaii, you should learn English or Hawaiian; if you want to live in New Mexico, you should learn English or Spanish.
 

Glenski

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I think there should be a requirement to speak the language of a country if you want to live there.
What if the country has more than one language? Too many people think that there is only one for each country.

Speaking for the UK, I don't think we should always expect people to learn English (or Welsh in Wales) before we let them live here, particularly in the case of asylum seekers, but it should be a condition of their asylum that they learn English (or Welsh).
Problem is, to what level and in what period of grace time do you give them? Plus, if they are slow learners, do you refuse them asylum?

At the same time, I think we should protect indigenous languages and allow the native speakers to continue to use their language as they wish.
As their only language, though?
 

Pachipro

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Good responses from all and I appreciate them. I took a little of the "devil's advocate" position in the OP in order to gage honest opinions for I wholehartedly personally believe that if one is to live in a foreign country permanently or for more than a year, that they should learn the language. This is evident in my posts on this forum.

However, here in the US we have many a foreigner, mosty Mexican, who simply do not know the language and make no attempt to learn it. Many of them are illegal and the authorities are forbidden from asking their immigration status at any time. Besides, even if they are found to be illegal when stopped for speeding and such they are not deported as ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) does not want anything to do with them so they are set free. They also are hired by American factories, at below going wages, and the companies are not allowed to ask their immigration status if they can produce a Social Security Number, false or otherwise. Besides, these greedy companies do not even require them to speak English. I'm sure the same holds true in Japan with construction companies, etc. and especially English teaching companies.

The push in the US is definitely against requiring foreigners to speak English in order to live and work here. Doesn't make sense to me, but it seems to be the prevailing rule. More and more today, the American who can speak Mexican/Spanish will usually get hired over a more qualified American who does not speak the language. This is especially prevalent in factories and law enforcement these days.
Glenski said:
LPGA is an American group, is it not? What is so surprising that they require members to speak enough English to do interviews and communicate with sponsors (ka-ching opportunity) and give acceptance speeches and just plain interact with the other players?
OK agreed. However, let's turn the tables and require that every American, European, etc participating in a golf toiurnament in Japan be required to speak the language. The same should then hold true for American baseball where the majority of Japanese players STILL need translators when they are interviewed or even when the manager wants to speak to them! Why not here also. If we are going to apply it to the LPGA then it should be applied to all sports. I still hold the opinion that it is because that the majority of players, like 1/3, are Korean. Kind of hypocrytical to me regardless of whether they are a private organization.

And why should they be required to? It's not required even for the commercials and interviews. They do NOT live here permamanently and are only here for the season and to play. No English is required to play. If it is not required in Korea or Japan, then it should not be required here in the US.

Then, also, the same should be of US washed-out ballplayers in Japan. They ALWAYS need a translator even when they appear in interviews and on commercials in Japan and rarely ever attempt to learn the language. Also, the same with golfers. They always have an interpretor.
Besides, if they can't pass a simple English test as that, they don't lose their golfing privileges permanently; it's just a suspension. They have a year to get ready, and this was foretold to them years ago, said another article.
It may be propaganda, but that is not what was reported on the TV news or the local newspapers. How many people really do any further research? I myself should've checked with the LPGA site first and I really doubt, regardless of what they say, that it was foretold to them years ago. What did they say? "If you get too good, we will require you to speak English and pass a test." What a crock. Besides, why should even a suspension be required when English is NOT required to play the sport? Besides, even when a foreigner wins, whether they be Korean or European, they are given minimal coverage unless their name is Annika Sorenstam.
The question about discrimination that should be raised is this -- why only the women's group of golfers?
As mentioned above, it is, IMO ONLY, because the Korean golfers are dominating the LPGA with their superior play and their winning most of the tournaments. Plain and simple. The US LPGA is just crying as American players do not measure up and cannot compete. They are saying, "Hey, this is the LPGA and Korea is dominating. We can't have that. Let's make them learn English and maybe we can weed out some of the better players." Just a bunch of cry baby pouting if you ask me. Much like the bad kid in baseball who is not picked because he is not good, but his parents supply the bats and balls taking his equipment and going home. It just isn't right. If the Japanese begin to dominate in baseball, I'm sure it will probably be required there also to protect the inferior players. It may even happen in basketball as Eastern Europeans are beginning to show a strong showing there in recent years.

I don't know what the right answer is, but I believe that if you live in a foreign country and work there that you should learn the language in order to stay or get hired. If you are just a transient, playing a sport then, no, it should not be a requirement.

However, it is still not even required in Japan whether you become a citizen, are a pro-sportsman/woman, or even an English teacher.

Am I wrong here or is it just hypocracy/fear on the part of the LPGA and the fact that American companies want to profit from foreigners with lower wages, no health insurance and no requirement that they speak the language? After all it is the American corporations who fund the candidates during their election.
 

Haruspex

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A person must struggle really hard not to learn the language of the country he is living in. I mean, honestly, is it not hard? I know there are people who manage to accomplish it somehow, but say, after living in that country for 10 years, I wonder how they do it. And this ain't a matter of talent or whatever.
 

Mycernius

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What if the country has more than one language? Too many people think that there is only one for each country.
Methinks in countries like Belgium and Canada the langauge that is the majority in the area is spoken. There are people in thoses countries that do not speak the other offical language of the country. In Belgium there are even family members who cannot talk to relatives because they live in a different part of the country and have been bought up to speak that language.
Even Maciamo mentioned that despite knowing Dutch he wasn't very good at it and prefered the language he grew up with, which was French. And I admit he does speak a lot of languages.

I feel that in such countries that the best way is to speak the language that is prevalent in the area. Say if I went to live in Canada and settled in Quebec, then I should learn French. However if I lived in Brtish Colombia, an English speaking province, then I will stick to English.

Just to point out the UK has 5 native languages, English, Welsh, Erse (Irish Gaelic), Gallic (Scots Gaelic) and Cornish. If you wish to include the Isle of Man, native language Manx, makes it 6.
 
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Alaska has a couple dozen native languages.

And lots of foreign languages, like English. I sure feel glad the natives don't force me to learn Yupik, Inupiat, or Tlingit.
 

Tsuyoiko

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What if the country has more than one language? Too many people think that there is only one for each country.

I think I already answered that when I explained the situation in Wales and made a suggestion for US states.

Problem is, to what level and in what period of grace time do you give them? Plus, if they are slow learners, do you refuse them asylum?

I agree that's problematic and I don't know enough about learning languages to answer it. I think if someone can demonstrate that they are making an earnest effort, that's enough.

A person must struggle really hard not to learn the language of the country he is living in. I mean, honestly, is it not hard? I know there are people who manage to accomplish it somehow, but say, after living in that country for 10 years, I wonder how they do it. And this ain't a matter of talent or whatever.

I expect those who manage it have to rely on others an awful lot, which can't be a good thing.
 

Glenski

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I think the situation between Wales and England is quite different from the US. Wales and England are part of Britain and the UK. Perhaps government situations there permit what you suggest, but in the US it's obviously not the same. With the melting pot/salad bar of cultures/ethnicities/languages that makes up the US, and with its own Native American languages, which one(s) would you "give equal status" to?

"Making an earnest effort" gives a lot of leeway to be turned down. Japan is considering this right now. If foreigners can show a certain level of Japanese, they will be able to get a longer visa. No more details than that are forthcoming on this proposal, but the same sort of concept holds. That is, what is the level (earnest effort)?
 
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"You're not part of their community, are you?"

Not if you ask me. But some of them would say I'm living on their land. Russia took Alaska from them, and sold it to the US.

Here's another issue: if you're going to require everyone to speak a certain language, then what about the right to free speech?
 

grapefruit

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If one can choose to live in a foreign country, probably the person can accept the requirement of learning the language. If a person has no choice but staying in the country for various reasons, it is another story. Refugees and minorities usually do not have choice. If all government proceedings and services are only available in the official language of the country, it is the same as depriving the basic human rights from those who do not have a good command of the language. Imagine you traveled to such a country without a sufficient proficiency in the designated language and happened to get arrested for some reason including a simple misunderstanding. If the law said all the transactions should to be carried in that language, you would be doomed. If you wished for a fair trail, you would certainly need access to an interpreter.
 

misa.j

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The way I see this topic is that it doesn't have be so much of an issue; English is a predominantly used language in the US, and I think the fact that there are other language options available for many services here is a privilege.

Having "English Only Policy" for certain situations does not take away one's liberty, and I don't think it's discriminatory. People can and do still communicate with their native tongue at their convenience. :)
 

bakaKanadajin

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You can't really mandate that people learn X language in order to live somewhere.
People are free to learn or not learn, and by that I also mean that people's abilities to learn a language will vary as well, as Glenski pointed out.

I think however that the government of any given country should not be on the hook for providing services and putting money into systems that cater to foreign languages just to accomodate those unwilling to learn. Canada is an exception, you can get health and political information in just about any language you want, but then again we advertise ourselves as being that way, highly multicultural.

But aside from situations like that, you know what, if you don't want to learn the language then that's fine but don't expect tax payers money to be put into services/systems that technically aren't necessary, that is, services and systems that don't cater to the predominant linguistic group.
 

Revenant

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Requiring everyone to speak a certain language would definitely exclude a few people. I've met some otherwise bright students that had absolutely no linguistic ability, a thirty five year old engineer who was in charge of maintaining a major bridge here (connects Honshu and Shikoku) honestly sweated though eight classes just trying to learn very simple questions, statements, and answers. 'He is Japanese' still came out with great effort and hesitation as 'He am Japanese' after eight classes, and then I've met some honest to God bimbos who picked up English in no time at all and with seemingly no actual effort.
 

grapefruit

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Requiring everyone to speak a certain language would definitely exclude a few people. I've met some otherwise bright students that had absolutely no linguistic ability, a thirty five year old engineer who was in charge of maintaining a major bridge here (connects Honshu and Shikoku) honestly sweated though eight classes just trying to learn very simple questions, statements, and answers. 'He is Japanese' still came out with great effort and hesitation as 'He am Japanese' after eight classes, and then I've met some honest to God bimbos who picked up English in no time at all and with seemingly no actual effort.

The aforementioned engineer would certainly be disadvantaged if the society required only one dominant language, despite the fact that he pays tax. If you are fluent in or the native speaker of the dominant language, it is convenient and makes more sense to enforce everyone to speak the language. If you are a minority or unfortunately lack linguistic talent, your life is not going to be easy. From the vantage point of the weak, I cannot support requiring one language to everyone irrespective of being in my own country or in a foreign country.

By the way, I wonder if it is really unattainable to have multi-lingual society. Many countries have multi-lingual policy. Doesn't more services in minority languages translate into more jobs?
 

Mitsuo

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I most certainly believe that it should be required to learn the language of the country in which you wish to live. It can be a frustrating feat in an attempt to communicate with someone who cannot speak english here in the United States. I have patience, however, when there is no attempt to learn the dominate language of the country, it's just disrespectful. I would never expect to live in, let's say Germany, and have them accomodate for my inability to communicate clearly.
I think in order to gain citizenship, one must be enrolled in a class that teaches the language. As long as they are enrolled and attend the class until they pass, they will have met the language requirement.
They would benefit the most from the requirement, since they can say that they speak more than one language (assuming that they only spoke the one before the class). This would enable them to get more jobs.
This requirement of course would not prohibit them from speaking their native tongue.
 

grapefruit

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I most certainly believe that it should be required to learn the language of the country in which you wish to live. It can be a frustrating feat in an attempt to communicate with someone who cannot speak english here in the United States. I have patience, however, when there is no attempt to learn the dominate language of the country, it's just disrespectful. I would never expect to live in, let's say Germany, and have them accomodate for my inability to communicate clearly.
I think in order to gain citizenship, one must be enrolled in a class that teaches the language. As long as they are enrolled and attend the class until they pass, they will have met the language requirement.
They would benefit the most from the requirement, since they can say that they speak more than one language (assuming that they only spoke the one before the class). This would enable them to get more jobs.
This requirement of course would not prohibit them from speaking their native tongue.
I have no qualms with requiring the learning of the official language. But, any mandatory learning comes with evaluation. How to evaluate? What is the minimum cut-off line? What if the person lacks linguistic talent and continues to fail? Gaining citizenship is different from staying in the country permanently. What is more, permanent and temporal residents do pay tax.
 
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