A Letter from the Editors

Jamie Doo and Phoebe Lai, Editors-in-Chief

In spite of recent progress in the acceptance and appreciation of diversity in America, there are still a number of citizens who believe that speaking English should be mandatory when living in America. 

Those on the more radical side maintain that people should not be able to live in the United States if they do not speak the defaulted language.

However, the notion that learning English is an expectation for living in the U.S. is ironic given the Freedom of Speech clause of the First Amendment. 

This gives Americans the freedom to express themselves (i.e. through another language) without fear of harm or arrest. One does not need to speak English in order to live in the United States—just as not speaking English doesn’t make one a lesser “American.” 

In late, there have been reports about attacks on those who choose to communicate in a different language, threatening the right of U.S. citizens to exercise their right to speak freely. A high-profile case example happened in May of 2018, when a white man threatened to call ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) on Spanish-speaking employees in a New York restaurant, claiming that the workers were undocumented because they spoke another language. 

Speaking another language in a country where freedom of speech is a clear birthright does not mean that person should be removed from the country. This  idea that those who don’t speak English in America are “undocumented” is simply a stereotype.

In addition, the majority of American households hold the title of being bilingual. America is commonly known as a melting pot of various cultures and languages, and linguistic differences are important in maintaining this diversity.

But, whether or not English is understood in the household, language itself is difficult to fluently acquire, especially when one immigrates after childhood. People should be mindful of the arduous process of learning a new language, considering students in American schools hardly become fluent from taking foreign language classes in the first place. 

Some argue that English still is the de facto language of the land, and speaking English unites the country as a whole. And yes, those who desire citizenship should have a sense of allegiance to the United States.

Still, there are many programs available to assist those who want to improve their English, 

These opportunities do lead to an expectation to speak English. In fact, most immigrants need a general level of English-speaking skills in order to efficiently communicate during their jobs. 

Nevertheless, the United States is not a homogeneous country. Those who speak other languages should not be looked down upon. 

While speaking English may be an advantage to some in terms of convenience, it is not a prerequisite of living in America, nor a representation of one’s loyalty to the United States.