The “English only” movement is especially clueless. In most places practical necessity is a far greater incentive to learn English than anything they can come up with. And people are generally pretty smart about learning whatever languages they need to to function in a society. Even when the kids of Hispanic immigrants — who speak fluent English — speak Spanish to each other, it’s a Spanglish that would make their grandmothers throw up their hands in horror. As for older first generation immigrants who have trouble learning English, they’re no different from the Polish and Italian-speaking grandparents many people fondly remember in Chicago, or the Norsk and German speakers Sinclair Lewis portrayed in Minnesota. And, psst — I hear there are some American occupation troops, and corporate personnel extracting other countries’ resources, who don’t learn the local languages either!
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