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jennifer rose

Jul 29, 2007, 6:14 PM

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Should Mexico Become Officially Bilingual?

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A few years ago, I read about Chile's effort to make the country bilingual, calling for all Chilean elementary and high school students to be able to pass standardized listening and reading tests within ten years, with a long-term goal of making the entire country fluent in English in another generation. Should Mexico do likewise? Let's look at this not simply from the selfish perspective of catering to native English speakers who may have opted to move to Mexico; let's look at whether the approach would benefit the broader range of interests, whether doing so is in the country's best interest, and, yes, even the negatives.



thfarrell


Jul 29, 2007, 9:16 PM

Post #2 of 23 (2928 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] Should Mexico Become Officially Bilingual?

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hmmmm... this is a bit puzzling. Wouldn't Mexicans see it as rather like suggesting the national colors be changed to red, white and blue?

Would it be easier to have all US students learn Spanish? I'd love to hear the MinuteMan / Wallbuilder take on that... :-)

Tom
---
"Beauty is in the i of the Beholder"
(Julia Mandelbrot)


alex .

Jul 30, 2007, 7:31 AM

Post #3 of 23 (2894 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] Should Mexico Become Officially Bilingual?

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Yes: Spanish and Zapoteca.
Alex


jerezano

Jul 30, 2007, 7:34 AM

Post #4 of 23 (2892 views)

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Re: [thfarrell] Should Mexico Become Officially Bilingual?

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Hello,

Should Mexico Become Officially Bilingual?

What a ridiculous idea. The idea is almost as ridiculous as suggesting that the United States should become officially bi-lingual, tri-lingual, multi-lingual.

And this idea is being scotched by me, a man who believes that the more languages a person can speak, the better off he/she will be financially, culturally, socially, worldly, and personally.

Let's look dispassionately at the Canadian experience. Has official bilingualism benefited Canada in any way? Well yes, and well no. It would be interesting to see a disinterested study on exactly this theme.

Adiós. jerezano.


Don Moore


Jul 30, 2007, 9:17 AM

Post #5 of 23 (2874 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] Should Mexico Become Officially Bilingual?

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I'll approach this from a slightly different perspective. Regardless of what happens officially, it would be all but impossible for Mexican students to be proficient in English across the board in 10 years. Where will the teachers come from?
Don Moore


muycontento

Jul 30, 2007, 10:08 AM

Post #6 of 23 (2859 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] Should Mexico Become Officially Bilingual?

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That is beyond ludicrous. With the education system in shambles, learning another language is so far down the list of priorities it is not even on the list.


Georgia


Jul 30, 2007, 10:36 AM

Post #7 of 23 (2852 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] Should Mexico Become Officially Bilingual?

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I used to live in Spain where the public use of Basque, gallego and catalan were outlawed. It caused nothing but problems. Every time a country tries to impose a language on a people unwilling to use or accept it, or, conversely, tries to discourage the use of a language it causes nothing but discord. Ditto for Canada and the United States. Leave it in peace.


tonyburton


Jul 30, 2007, 11:25 AM

Post #8 of 23 (2840 views)

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Re: [alex .] Should Mexico Become Officially Bilingual?

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Well said! I would imagine that Mexico already has more bilingual people than the US, despite the difference in their total population. For starters, there are some 6 million people who speak an indigenous language plus Spanish. Then we have the large number of Mexicans who are already bilingual in Spanish-English or Spanish-French (my guess at the two most common combinations). Actually, come to think of it, Mexico almost certainly has more bilingual people than the officially bilingual Canada, too!


Ed and Fran

Jul 30, 2007, 7:32 PM

Post #9 of 23 (2790 views)

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Re: [tonyburton] Should Mexico Become Officially Bilingual?

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Then we have the large number of Mexicans who are already bilingual in Spanish-English....


Yeah, but most of them are probably NOB, so they ought to count towards the bilingual stats for the USA.


Septiembre


Aug 9, 2007, 9:20 AM

Post #10 of 23 (2672 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] Should Mexico Become Officially Bilingual?

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Now THIS is an interesting question. :>)

From an economic standpoint, I'd have to say the answer is yes but only voluntarily. Like Canada, Mexico is highly dependent on the U.S. economically and in turn the U.S. is highly dependent on Mexico for labor. Despite the romantic pretensions of a few who extoll the virtues of living in shacks and riding donkeys, the reality is that the average Mexican would like to live better and he sees the U.S. as the place that can make it happen.

Since everyone NOB speaks English (except for Quebec and most of them are bilingual) and the economic engine of everything north of Panama primarily resides in those two countries, Mexico can become more economically integrated with the places the money and opportunity for better standard of living is at, if they learn English.

If Mexico bordered China, I'd say the same thing only the language would be Chinese.

English is about as close as you get to an international language. It is the primary language of science and commerce. This is not only due to our influence but also due to the earlier impact of the British empire.

BTW, the British claim the Americans haven't spoken English for years. Looking at the sad state of grammar and spelling in the U.S., I'd have to agree.


(This post was edited by Septiembre on Aug 9, 2007, 9:24 AM)


carlw

Aug 9, 2007, 11:17 AM

Post #11 of 23 (2658 views)

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Re: [Septiembre] Should Mexico Become Officially Bilingual?

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In Dallas County, Texas, 20% or more of the residents do not speak English, even as a poor second language. Spanish is predominant, but many other languages also are used. A very high percentage of children entering school do not speak English, or else their English is very limited when they get there.
Dallas County is among the 10% of all USA counties where non-white and/or hispanics are in the majority. Over half our local TV and radio stations are in Spanish (over 15 Spanish TV stations at last count),signs and other public media are as likely to be in Spanish as English, or sometimes both. Job advertisements nearly always carry the phrase "bilingual Spanish/English preferred," or sometimes required, as in "fluent in Spanish." A new controversy this week at the Dallas City Council because trash and garbage trucks now carry a bilingual message about recycling painted on their sides. And it goes on. Mexicans immigrants in Texas live in what is essentially a bi-lingual community. A lot more people in Mexico speak English, often very good English, than you may imagine, and almost all the urban young people in Mexico learn to speak basic English. They want to speak with their cousins NOB, enjoy the movies, TV and music, and be prepared when they make their first journey NOB. I think Mexico and USA are much closer to already being bi-lingual than mightappear.


jerezano

Aug 9, 2007, 1:06 PM

Post #12 of 23 (2649 views)

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Re: [carlw] Should Mexico Become Officially Bilingual?

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Hello,

Interesting post by Carlw about Dallas County, Texas.

I cannot agree with his last statement: "I think Mexico and USA are much closer to already being bi-lingual than mightappear." That certainly cannot be said or be true about the United States, unfortunately. And I doubt very much that it is true about México. I do know many Mexicans who speak English well or fluently, and I personally know one who has a Masters in English (or perhaps it is in the teaching of English as a second language) and is teaching in the United States. I also know many others who were forced to take English starting in secondaria and others who have taken four years of required English in Universities and none of whom learned a damn thing because of the poor, improper, and defficient instruction received.

In my own opinion it will be a long time before either country could have a bi-lingual majority.

Adiós. jerezano.


trpt2345

Aug 9, 2007, 5:47 PM

Post #13 of 23 (2625 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] Should Mexico Become Officially Bilingual?

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Never would happen. And why? In Mexico they speak Spanish and why should it be otherwise? Silly idea. And no, neither the US nor Mexico are on their way to being bilingual. Not many people in my neck of the woods who are not Mexican or Puerto Rican or something know any Spanish, and in my travels in Mexico I haven't met many who speak English. Hence my rusty and flawed Spanish skills which will be getting an annual workout in another week or so when we come to Morelia and Xalapa. Que bueno!

Michael McLaughlin 'el bolillo ranchero".


doogie

Aug 10, 2007, 10:15 AM

Post #14 of 23 (2592 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] Should Mexico Become Officially Bilingual?

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OK, but only after the USA does the same.
Doogie,
Tapato de corazn


belgique


Aug 11, 2007, 5:24 PM

Post #15 of 23 (2532 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] Should Mexico Become Officially Bilingual?

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I'm just a geezer and have simple criteria for what is right and wrong. I traveled a lot around the globe with the Army and it never occurred to me that the citizens of the nation I was visiting should be expected to communicate with me in anything but their own language...even in the UK and New Zealand! I was a guest of theirs and it was my obligation to communicate with them in THEIR language. As a result, I tried to learn the basic phrases (Thank You [the most important one]; Please [2nd in importance] and then, hello, how are you, etc.) Depending on how long I was in a place I got ok with communicating. I NEVER asked: "Do you speak English?" What usually happened was I would make my attempt and they would answer in English.

I met my Belgian bride (of several decades) because I was struggling understanding what a Chinese waiter in Brussels was trying to tell me in French...she was at the next table...translated...and we got married. In my and (our defense) I had 2 years of Spanish and 2 of French...but never got to practice it. Once I traveled to Brussels frequently, I got pretty good in French.

As for 2 official languages: this is a disaster anywhere. I have Belgian military colleagues and have seen the inefficiency. In their Government, the person can speak in his native tongue (French or Flemish [and some places, German]) and be answered by the respondent in their native tongue. I have seen officers brief in French, get questions in Flemish and answer in French. Colleagues in Canada tell me the same stories. All correspondence has to be in both languages. Think about how many misunderstandings we have when only one language is being used. The cost of requiring that everything be in 2 languages is great. As an aside, I cannot count the number of times I was a NATO meetings when the Brits, Canadians and Americans engaged in heated debate on what something meant in English.

Do I think that anyone engaged in business and travel be able to speak the host's language? Of course. I also think it makes sense to teach the languages that the the students will have the opportunity to use outside of the classroom. In 1959 I never met anyone who did not speak anything but English (albeit, Southern English). Thus, I soon forgot all that I had learned. On the other hand, my bride is fluent in French, English, Italian, and some German and Spanish. The reason: she heard these languages everyday in Brussels. Also, she is smarter than me.

JMHO, Steve


thriftqueen

Aug 14, 2007, 7:17 PM

Post #16 of 23 (2445 views)

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Re: [carlw] Should Mexico Become Officially Bilingual?

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I am currently in Albuquerque, NM for my yearly visit and have just returned from a week in Fredericksburg, Tx. While reading the San Antonio or Lubbock newspapers it was just announced that Texas Hispanics are now a majority and the "white" guys are now the minority. Sorry I don't remember what paper this was published in so don't have a link. I was not thinking of the MxConnect group.

I'm not sure how I want to say this but here goes, the US Americanos may as well get used to it, the Mexican is here to stay, legal or illegal. For the ones who want to keep Mexico like it has always been (quaint and behind times) get over that also. In the ten years we have lived in Mexico we have seen much progress in many areas of Mexican life. Probably most among the poor. In our town many Mexicans speak better English than the Anglo does Spanish. I agree with Jerezano that the schools are inept in teaching English but many of the young are striking out and studying on their own and becoming proficient in English.

Mexico and the US are tied much closer together than many expats like to admit. The US is slow in learning that the schools here must begin teaching Spanish as a second language as we all know that in the near future Hispanics will be the majority throughout the US. It's to our advantage for all our citizens to have Spanish as a second language.


Georgia


Aug 17, 2007, 9:05 AM

Post #17 of 23 (2381 views)

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Re: [thriftqueen] Should Mexico Become Officially Bilingual?

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Amen. The Europeans have accepted this concept for decades and most speak several languages -- not to their detriment, I might add.


Septiembre


Aug 21, 2007, 7:01 AM

Post #18 of 23 (2303 views)

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Re: [thriftqueen] Should Mexico Become Officially Bilingual?

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That is a brilliant post Thriftqueen, thanks!


Papirex


Aug 21, 2007, 8:52 AM

Post #19 of 23 (2287 views)

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Re: [thriftqueen] Should Mexico Become Officially Bilingual?

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I think that slow progress is being made to allow more young Americans to become bi-lingual in Spanish and English. In my hometown of Napa, California there is a primary school that used to be named The Westwood School. Most of my kids went to it for their primary education.

The name and mission of that school was changed some years ago. It is now named something like The Napa Valley Language Institute. Part of its mission is to teach kids to be bi-lingual in Spanish and English.

In the mornings, only Spanish is spoken in the classrooms. In the afternoon, only English is used.

One of my daughters enrolled one of her sons in that school when he started school. He is now in high school and very fluent in Spanish. Doris met him for the first time when he was just ten years old (Doris is the step Mom of my kids) Doris said he spoke Spanish perfectly, with just a slight English accent.

I spoke to one of my old friends in Napa a few years ago; her two granddaughters were attending that school too. My friend thought it was an outrage that Spanish was spoken in the school and not just English. That is the attitude that many Americans have that must be changed before more Americans will become bi-lingual.

If more people will demand it, maybe more school districts will get off their duff, and provide the education that our kids need today.

We can hope.

Rex
"The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved" - Victor Hugo


TlxcalaClaudia

Aug 28, 2007, 6:35 PM

Post #20 of 23 (2228 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] Should Mexico Become Officially Bilingual?

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From an ex 3rd grade teacher in Mexico at a bilingual school:


HECK FIRE NO!!


These schools claiming to be bilingual are for the most part over-charging families for a money-making scheme disguised as private schools with English classes. My 3rd graders could have used more reading skills in their own language for instance.... if they didn't care about it in their native tongue, an on- fire English teacher from Canada, USA or wherever wasn't going to make much difference. What schools claim to be English classes here are poor attempts succeeding only in getting students to use common phrases again and again. Parents fall for it because they hear their kids speaking these phrases. If the govt. makes learning English a requirment...I can just see more of these sorts of schools/businesses popping up everywhere. Economically speaking...learning to speak English can kill a family's budget all for one child who might come out only saying, "May I go to the bathroom please."
If it really helps a family economically down the road....better to stick to the afterschool cheaper programs. Taking up in school class time isn't making a difference. I can see this in my university students at UDLAP. THe ones who attended Harmon Hall after school courses have better writing and speaking skills than the ones who attended the bilingual schools. I did my own active study on this by having them fill out questionnaires...I took samples of their writing and compared them. Why? I was curious after a disaster of a year for my own two children. As luck would have it, few in Mexico care about my statistics....so I'm just homeschooling for now cause I can't take another year of poor English instruction in the private schools for around $500 USD a month.

Claudine

Claudine


jerezano

Aug 29, 2007, 3:36 PM

Post #21 of 23 (2183 views)

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Re: [TlxcalaClaudia] Should Mexico Become Officially Bilingual?

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Hello,

TlxcalaClaudia is a little bit on fire, and rightly so. She speaks about the private English teaching schools, and is rather indignant, since most of those schools are as she described. Nonetheless, there are some really good competent English language schools here in Mexico.

Now, perhaps she is not aware that English is a required subject in the public secondary schools here in Mexico (at least in Zacatecas). I believe the requirement is for two years. Two additional years is also required in most University classes. I have been told that it is required also in the elementary schools, and even in some kindergartens, but I am not sure of those.

So, whether Mexico is bi-lingual or not, children who progress through elementary, secondary, and University do have some years of English language training. Usually more years than they care to take, often with a total of naught for all the time spent.

English training here faces a real problem. Unlike Spanish which if mispronounced can still be understood, English becomes complete gibberish if not pronounced correctly. And that is the real problem which English schools here in Mexico face. The public schools cannot afford and do not offer teachers who pronounce English well. I have sat in on secondary and telesecondary classes where the models on the Government distributed videos were speaking an English which I could not understand and the students were trying to mimic those models. A really frustrating experience. I sat in on some University classes where the professors became really embarrassed because I couldn't understand their instructions in English to their classes. (I promptly excused myself and left, of course).

So, if Mexico should ever become officially bi-lingual, the country faces exactly the same problem which the United States would face. Official bilingualism Spanish/English is not likely in either country. Because of the large Spanish-speaking minority in some US states, efforts are being made to accomodate that minority, but it is a courtesy effort only.

Adis. jerezano.


NEOhio1


Aug 30, 2007, 1:54 AM

Post #22 of 23 (2148 views)

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Re: [jerezano] Should Mexico Become Officially Bilingual?

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US high school used to require at least two years of a foreign language, our youngest now 20, didn't have to meet that requirement, our older two nearer 30 did. Colleges used to require 2 years of language also, both older girls had to but the younger wouldn't necessarily be required to, it would now depend on the major course of study.

Its a shame the US is so isolationist, speaking to language acquistion only, my 3 years of high school Spanish in the 70s was extremely lightweight and after a summer touring Mexico and returning 3 weeks late to the beginning of my senior year the Spanish teacher, Ms. Hockman, told me I would never catch up...well I rattled off a quick summary of the summer to her and even switched a couple dialects (that's what falling in summer love with a young student will do for you, speaking to language acquisition only, of course) and she looked me and her mouth fell open and she said she just did not believe it....and I got an immediate A without having to take the class that year. Another 2 years of Spanish in college, but now at 52, last year I spoke as a 2 year old and this year a 3 year old. At this rate I will be very old before I can match what I said to Ms. Hockman that day so long ago. But I read the papers well and understand a lot that is said to me and more and more every day, so there is some hope I will reach age 5 skills, that would include past tense.

But things are changing, its thier intent to have our year old grandson begin a second language in preschool and a third in junior high. But that daughter has 4 languages, French, Spanish, an African dialect from Burkina Faso and Indonesian. Her husband has three, university level Spanish which he does not remember, an African dialect from Mali and Indonesian. I have asked them to consider a posting in Mexico, but the daughter says she just doesn't think she has another language in her for a few years. But the grandson, he'll learn Spanish in preschool...very cool.


The son-in-law doesn't remember any Spanish and this is how I know - 5 years ago while he was still a prospective SIL he decided that because of my interest in Mexico he would send me a birthday card in Spanish. It said "Happy Birthday to the love of my life and the woman of all my dreams" and a bunch of othe stuff equally machismo lovey. He was mortified and it still makes me howl with laughter.


(This post was edited by NEOhio1 on Aug 30, 2007, 1:56 AM)


Bloviator

Aug 30, 2007, 6:44 AM

Post #23 of 23 (2131 views)

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Re: [NEOhio1] Should Mexico Become Officially Bilingual?

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I'm constantly amazed when my "C" grade high school Spanish from 50+ years ago (and one semester in Jr. College) comes back to me at critical moments. It has made my feeble attempts at Spanish proficiency a lot easier.

It really is too bad that lots of students NoB do not have the opportunity to study foreign languages today. Thanks to "No Child Left Behind" the only priority of US education is teaching to rote memorization tests.
 
 
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