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Do American immigrants want to learn English? Are the children of Spanish-speaking adult immigrants learning English? What are the recent trends in California and Los Angeles?
A recently released Census Bureau report, based on the 2007 Census information, shows that – shock, shock – immigrants overwhelmingly want to improve their English skills. It also shows that a slight majority (51%) of immigrants in Los Angeles claim that they can speak English fluently – an increase from just a few years ago. The study also notes that 88% of immigrant children claim to speak English – and want to learn more.
Yesterday’s Los Angeles Times editorial “Speak English? Yes, more immigrants do “ provides a solid introduction to the heated debate over language and immigration in California. The editorial also argues that immigration reform should include a provision to keep families united so the American children of illegal immigrant parents are not separated from their parents. Finally, the editorial concludes that both the United States and the English language continue to evolve and Americans should embrace change.
The fine editorial, however, could and should have called for both expanding and improving the quality of public education programs so immigrants – including adult immigrants – can learn English quicker. A better Census report also would have included the legal status of immigrants and gone beyond self-reported data by immigrants with evolving language skills.
The editorial’s strong, humane conclusion is worth repeating verbatim:
“American culture grows and adapts as new immigrants redefine it over the generations, and the same can be said of the English language. We should embrace that evolution, not hold it at bay with false and alarmist arguments about the threat to American values.”
Los Angeles Times, September 24, 2008 editorial
Doesn’t that sound sane and civilized?
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