Sunday, May 16, 2010

Unilinguaphobia - Fear of monolingualism?

What is 'unilinguaphobia'? Although here in the USA, there is no official national language, there are organizations that do promote the idea that English be the only language used in any official context. Most Americans do not see the point of learning other languages because English has become the tourist lingua franca throughout the world. So, we definitely are not worried about unilingualism. Then, what would make our neighbors to the north - also predominantly English speakers - suffer from unilinguaphobia?

In Canada, there has been a long-term battle to ensure that French be recognized as a national language along with English. Thus, if you want to be employed by the Canadian government, you need to be bilingual in English and French. Apparently, if you are conversant in only one of these languages, you can lose your job. This phenomenon prompted me to consider our own language policy. Do we have one?

It is not my purpose to discuss the sense or nonsense in enforcing a law that mandates bilingualism in another country. The USA has tried to balance the racial make-up of the government workforce with quota-like systems and has also experimented with bilingualism in areas, such as the Southwest (Title VII). Since 2002 and the No Child Left Behind policy, we have begun to focus attention back on performance in English by instituting Title III programs.

The question remains, however, of the effectiveness of any federal program that funds schools at the local level in order to achieve some loftier goal, such as (American) English only in the classroom, which should lead to competence in this ubiquitous language. The problem Americans seem to face is not a fear of unilingualism but of multi-lingualism.


radio advertising said...

I have been looking for a rare blog because I am tired of accessing almost the same topic discussed in a website. This blog is actually hitting what I want to expect. I am very glad that you are now providing the information where I am hunting for many days of surfing the net.

radio advertising

Evelyn said...

Thanks for your comment, radio advertising! This kind of feedback is very useful as I embark on my fifth year of running this blog.