Issues of Bilingualism

Document details
Category: Language Essay
Subcategory: Living Languages
Words: 1096
Pages: 2

Bilingualism has had a bad rap lately. Prop 227, the Unz Initiative, successfully passed removing bilingual education from California schools replacing it with English immersion. For some reason, Americans feel that only one language is necessary and that language is English only. Although the general consensus is to remove any form of bilingualism in this country, research has shown that being bilingual is not bad but is actually a good trait to have. Bilingualism is defined as people who use two languages in the course of their every day life are not identical to those people who use only one language to communicate. For bilingual individuals their two languages form a unitary whole (Valdes, 6). What that means is that anyone who can effectively communicate in two different languages is bilingual. Whats added to the definition is an aspect that creates a separation between a mere familiarity with two languages and full communicative skills in two languages. That is important because there are two kinds of bilingual people elective bilinguals and circumstantial bilinguals. Elective bilinguals are those who choose to become bilingual by taking classes to learn a foreign language (Valdes, 12). Those are people who took French or Spanish in high school or any other form of educational environment. Circumstantial bilinguals are those who learn another language in order to survive (Valdes, 12). These are usually immigrants from foreign countries with different languages. The biggest difference between the two is choice. Elective bilinguals choose to be bilingual while circumstantial bilinguals have no choice. This is important because this paper focuses on circumstantial bilinguals because I will emphasize on the uniqueness of the immigrant experience and why that uniqueness should be embraced rather than shunned. Richard Rodriguez in his book Hunger of Memory writes about his experience as a second-generation Mexican immigrant growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood and his adventures in figuring out his identity. His first chapter emphasizes on bilingualism, how unnecessary...

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