Despite criticism from the right, today Barack Obama stood by his call for American schools to increase their emphasis on teaching foreign languages. On Tuesday, Obama said, “We should be emphasizing foreign languages in our schools from an early age.” This brought the wrath of the right wing immigrant haters who claims that Obama wants to teach American kids Spanish but not force immigrants to learn English.
Obama clarified and stood by his earlier in statement in Dayton, Ohio today, “I said something the other day down in Georgia, and the Republicans jumped on this. I said, you know, absolutely immigrants need to learn English, but we also need to learn foreign languages.”
He called this flap a problem that comes up when somebody tries to tell the truth, “This is an example of some of the problems we get into when somebody attacks you for saying the truth, which is we should want children with more knowledge. We should want our children to have more skills. There’s nothing wrong with that! It’s a good thing.”
Obama didn’t say that American kids had to learn Spanish. He said that American students should learn a foreign language. Studies show that students who learn a foreign language have higher test scores. Plus most four year colleges and universities have a foreign language requirement, so students who aren’t taught a foreign language earlier are less prepared for college.
I am also a strong believer that English language proficiency must be a requirement for immigrants coming into this country. Anyone who doesn’t speak English is putting themselves at a disadvantage in our economy, and immigrants who speak English earn more money than those who don’t.
No matter how much the immigrant haters try to fence and wall us in, they can’t deny that we live in a global economy, and the ability to speak multiple languages benefits both the foreign worker who comes to the United States, and the American worker who works abroad. It is a no brainer to suggest that our public school curriculum should be updated to reflect the realities of the 21 st Century, but those who want to live in a white world that is stuck in the past will always find a way to resist change.
Obama quotes came from here.