Letter to the Editor

November 14, 2005

Disappointed in dual language vote

To the editor:

It was disappointing to read that the establishing of a dual language school was approved by the Board of Education. Though this sounds good, it is a handicap to the children and to the country.

I did some teaching of English to Asians during my years in New York City. To cite one example, a twelve-year-old boy came to me every Saturday after he and his mother arrived from Shanghai to join the father. The boy at the beginning could only say “hello” and “good bye.” I began with a baby book of ABCs with the simplest of sentences. He read, he pronounced, he copied, he memorized. I read, he repeated after me. During the week he was in a class of English-speaking students. He got a daily separate session of special English training. He progressed rapidly, graduated from high school, was accepted to NYU, got a very good job, and then went back and got a masters.

I have seen young Korean children dropped into classes of English-speaking students. Very quickly they pick up English, grow in it, and it soon becomes their dominant language. They speak as fluently as an American-born child.

If my understanding is correct, research shows that teaching in two languages is not an advantage for the child. To state the obvious, a child does not learn English by speaking Spanish or any other language.

English is the language of the United States. A child is handicapped and limited if he cannot understand all the communication of the land, spoken and written.

Having residents/citizens in this country who do not speak English is divisive and fragmenting for the country. That is not good. The more unity the country has, the better it will be.

Hugh Waddy