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Journal ArticleDOI

The English-Only Question: An Official Language for Americans?

01 Dec 1993-Language-Vol. 69, Iss: 4, pp 791
About: This article is published in Language.The article was published on 1993-12-01. It has received 80 citations till now. The article focuses on the topics: Official language.
Citations
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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors argue that the exclusive use of English in teaching ESL has come to be seen as a natural and commonsense practice which can be justified on pedagogical grounds, but it is rooted in a particular ideological perspective, rests on unexamined assumptions, and serves to reinforce inequities in the broader social order.
Abstract: Despite widespread opposition to the English Only movement, support for bilingual education, and advocacy for language rights, many U.S. ESL educators continue to uphold the notion that English is the only acceptable medium of communication within the confines of the ESL classroom. Although the exclusive use of English in teaching ESL has come to be seen as a natural and commonsense practice which can be justified on pedagogical grounds, this article argues that it is rooted in a particular ideological perspective, rests on unexamined assumptions, and serves to reinforce inequities in the broader social order. Evidence from research and practice is presented which suggests that the rationale used to justify English only in the classroom is neither conclusive nor pedagogically sound. Further, the article details a growing body of evidence indicating that L1 and/or bilingual options are not only effective but necessary for adult ESL students with limited L1 literacy or schooling and that use of students' linguistic resources can be beneficial at all levels of ESL. Accounts from a number of projects, including two with which the author has been involved, document a range of uses for the native language in both initial literacy and ESL instruction for adults. Finally, because the issue of language choice is so intimately linked with issues of power, the article calls for reconceptualizing the notion of expertise to legitimate the knowledge and experience of nontraditional experts from the communities of the learners.

829 citations


Cites background from "The English-Only Question: An Offic..."

  • ...English was associated with patriotism--speaking "good" English was equated with being a "good" American (Baron, 1990, p 155)....

    [...]

  • ...…American ''yes" and "no" in place of an Indian grunt um hum" and " nup-um " or a foreign "ya" or "yeh" and "nope" (Robbins, 1918, p. 175, cited in Baron, 1990, p. 155) According to Baron, the spread of ESL instruction in the first quarter of the 20th century was a direct outcome of the…...

    [...]

  • ...2 That I will say a good American ''yes" and "no" in place of an Indian grunt um hum" and " nup-um " or a foreign "ya" or "yeh" and "nope" (Robbins, 1918, p. 175, cited in Baron, 1990, p. 155) According to Baron, the spread of ESL instruction in the first quarter of the 20th century was a direct outcome of the Americanization movement; it was at this time that direct methods stressing oral English gained favor over methods which allowed the use of the students' native language, and English only became the norm in ESL classes....

    [...]

  • ...show that monolingual approaches to the teaching of English have by no means always been the norm (Baron, 1990; Crawford, 1991; Daniels, 1990); rather, there have been cyclical fluctuations in policy often determined by political rather than pedagogical factors....

    [...]

  • ...The advent of World War I, the increase in immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe, and the growing role of immigrants in the labor movement contributed to an increasingly xenophobia atmosphere in the early 20th century; "foreign influence" was blamed for the nation's political and economic problems and the Americanization movement was promoted as a means of countering this influence ESL instruction became a vehicle to enhance loyalty both to the company and the country, with companies like the Ford Motor Company requiring employees to attend Americanization classes (Crawford, 1991, p 22)....

    [...]

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors examines the various interpretations of the historical forces that have determined language policy in the United States by first briefly discussing the permissive, restrictive, opportunist, and dismissive periods and then focusing on the current challenges to bilingual education.
Abstract: Bilingual education in the United States has been contested and reformulated within varying historical, political, social, and economic contexts. Guided by three interrelated research questions on ideology, policy, and politics, this article examines the various interpretations of the historical forces that have determined language policy in the United States by first briefly discussing the permissive, restrictive, opportunist, and dismissive periods and then focusing on the current challenges to bilingual education. The author argues that changing political, social, and economic forces, rather than any consistent ideology, have shaped the nation's responses to language diversity. He concludes that language ideology in the United States has shifted according to changing historical events, and the absence of a consistent U.S. language ideology has enhanced the role of symbolic politics—the resentment of special treatment for minority groups.

353 citations


Cites background from "The English-Only Question: An Offic..."

  • ...On the other hand, Baron (1990) offers a mirror image of Kloss—a history in which the restrictionist impulse has always been with us and has usually predominated: “The conditions producing today’s official English movement have been present in the United States since before the country’s founding…...

    [...]

  • ...libertarian linguistic tradition (Baron, 1990; Heath, 1976, 1983; Kloss, 1977/ 1998; Ricento, 1998), assimilationist and pluralist policies (cf....

    [...]

  • ...Despite the alleged U.S. libertarian linguistic tradition (Baron, 1990; Heath, 1976, 1983; Kloss, 1977/ 1998; Ricento, 1998), assimilationist and pluralist policies (cf. Wiebe, 1967) have each prevailed, often as surrogates for racist, classist, and religious prejudices....

    [...]

  • ...…opportunist, and dismissive periods as identified by Baker and Jones (1998) and cross-reference the work of Heath (1976), Kloss (1977/1998), Baron (1990), and Ricento (1998) to argue that changing localized political, social, and economic forces, rather than any consistent ideology, have…...

    [...]

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This paper reviewed historical and contemporary policies, ideologies, and educational prescriptions for languageminority students, and found that language and literacy policies historically have been upported by the majority of minority students.
Abstract: This article reviews historical and contemporary policies, ideologies, and educational prescriptions for language-minority students. It notes language and literacy policies historically have been u...

281 citations


Cites background from "The English-Only Question: An Offic..."

  • ...Thus, English has generally always possessed the status of the official language without the need for official designation (Baron, 1990; Crawford, 1992a; Heath, 1976; Kloss, 1977/1998; Wiley, 1997)....

    [...]

Book
05 Nov 2001
TL;DR: The authors discuss the global approach to sign languages in sign languages and the role of sign language planning and policy in the development of sign languages, and discuss the relationship between sign language use and language planning.
Abstract: 1. Introduction Ceil Lucas 2. Multilingualism - the global approach to sign languages Bencie Woll, Rachel Sutton-Spence and Frances Elton 3. Bilingualism and language contact Jean Ann 4. Sociolinguistic variation Ceil Lucas, Robert Bayley, Clayton Valli, Mary Rose and Alyssa Wulf 5. Discourse analysis Melanie Metzger and Ben Bahan 6. Language planning and policy Timothy Reagan 7. Language attitudes Sarah Burns, Pat Matthews and Evelyn Nolan.

142 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors argued that those using languages other than ours could not possibly think about the world the way we speakers of English do, and they linked the emblematic value of language use to some deep intuition about why ethnolinguistic difference should not be tolerated.
Abstract: H ow can they be real Americans if they don’t/won’t/can’t speak English?” We’ve all heard such questions, and we’ve read similar sentiments in angry letters to newspapers. At least, the feeling must be, that people within a certain political boundary—there’s a “where”—and in public earor eye-shot—there’s a “when”—ought to signal their recognition of now being included within the social whole by using the dominant language—there’s a “how”—(and by not using others). Here is language use conceptualized as unavoidably wearing an emblem of identity (or at least of self-identification). And it can go even further in its rationale for the insistence. Evidencing a language-shapes-thought Whorfianism, certain people also reason that those using languages other than ours could not possibly think about the world the way we speakers of English do. (Here, one can substitute any two languages.) With this rationale, editorialists and writers of letters to the editor feel ever more justified in linking the emblematic value of language use to some deep intuition about why ethnolinguistic difference should not be tolerated

125 citations

References
More filters
Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors argue that the exclusive use of English in teaching ESL has come to be seen as a natural and commonsense practice which can be justified on pedagogical grounds, but it is rooted in a particular ideological perspective, rests on unexamined assumptions, and serves to reinforce inequities in the broader social order.
Abstract: Despite widespread opposition to the English Only movement, support for bilingual education, and advocacy for language rights, many U.S. ESL educators continue to uphold the notion that English is the only acceptable medium of communication within the confines of the ESL classroom. Although the exclusive use of English in teaching ESL has come to be seen as a natural and commonsense practice which can be justified on pedagogical grounds, this article argues that it is rooted in a particular ideological perspective, rests on unexamined assumptions, and serves to reinforce inequities in the broader social order. Evidence from research and practice is presented which suggests that the rationale used to justify English only in the classroom is neither conclusive nor pedagogically sound. Further, the article details a growing body of evidence indicating that L1 and/or bilingual options are not only effective but necessary for adult ESL students with limited L1 literacy or schooling and that use of students' linguistic resources can be beneficial at all levels of ESL. Accounts from a number of projects, including two with which the author has been involved, document a range of uses for the native language in both initial literacy and ESL instruction for adults. Finally, because the issue of language choice is so intimately linked with issues of power, the article calls for reconceptualizing the notion of expertise to legitimate the knowledge and experience of nontraditional experts from the communities of the learners.

829 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors examines the various interpretations of the historical forces that have determined language policy in the United States by first briefly discussing the permissive, restrictive, opportunist, and dismissive periods and then focusing on the current challenges to bilingual education.
Abstract: Bilingual education in the United States has been contested and reformulated within varying historical, political, social, and economic contexts. Guided by three interrelated research questions on ideology, policy, and politics, this article examines the various interpretations of the historical forces that have determined language policy in the United States by first briefly discussing the permissive, restrictive, opportunist, and dismissive periods and then focusing on the current challenges to bilingual education. The author argues that changing political, social, and economic forces, rather than any consistent ideology, have shaped the nation's responses to language diversity. He concludes that language ideology in the United States has shifted according to changing historical events, and the absence of a consistent U.S. language ideology has enhanced the role of symbolic politics—the resentment of special treatment for minority groups.

353 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This paper reviewed historical and contemporary policies, ideologies, and educational prescriptions for languageminority students, and found that language and literacy policies historically have been upported by the majority of minority students.
Abstract: This article reviews historical and contemporary policies, ideologies, and educational prescriptions for language-minority students. It notes language and literacy policies historically have been u...

281 citations

Book
05 Nov 2001
TL;DR: The authors discuss the global approach to sign languages in sign languages and the role of sign language planning and policy in the development of sign languages, and discuss the relationship between sign language use and language planning.
Abstract: 1. Introduction Ceil Lucas 2. Multilingualism - the global approach to sign languages Bencie Woll, Rachel Sutton-Spence and Frances Elton 3. Bilingualism and language contact Jean Ann 4. Sociolinguistic variation Ceil Lucas, Robert Bayley, Clayton Valli, Mary Rose and Alyssa Wulf 5. Discourse analysis Melanie Metzger and Ben Bahan 6. Language planning and policy Timothy Reagan 7. Language attitudes Sarah Burns, Pat Matthews and Evelyn Nolan.

142 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors argued that those using languages other than ours could not possibly think about the world the way we speakers of English do, and they linked the emblematic value of language use to some deep intuition about why ethnolinguistic difference should not be tolerated.
Abstract: H ow can they be real Americans if they don’t/won’t/can’t speak English?” We’ve all heard such questions, and we’ve read similar sentiments in angry letters to newspapers. At least, the feeling must be, that people within a certain political boundary—there’s a “where”—and in public earor eye-shot—there’s a “when”—ought to signal their recognition of now being included within the social whole by using the dominant language—there’s a “how”—(and by not using others). Here is language use conceptualized as unavoidably wearing an emblem of identity (or at least of self-identification). And it can go even further in its rationale for the insistence. Evidencing a language-shapes-thought Whorfianism, certain people also reason that those using languages other than ours could not possibly think about the world the way we speakers of English do. (Here, one can substitute any two languages.) With this rationale, editorialists and writers of letters to the editor feel ever more justified in linking the emblematic value of language use to some deep intuition about why ethnolinguistic difference should not be tolerated

125 citations