by Eriko Maruyama
As one society is shifting from homogenizing society to multicultural one because of the increase of immigration, the problem of language is always controversial. In the United States, the increase of Hispanic immigrants is very remarkable, so it has been worried that Spanish would replace English. However, the fear was found to be wrong (Portes, A, 2002). The fact is that the migrants have getting to manage English as younger generations grow up. Almost 3rd generation of the migrants cannot speak their mother language but they only can speak English. Thus, the assimilation to English has been proceeding, while unities of mother languages have been getting weak. Does the collapse of language unity lead to the chaotic society?
In response to the tendency of immigrants’ loss of its original culture, the immigrants’ dominant society has launched to set bilingual education to maintain their mother languages. In these bilateral schools, students have subsidiary classes in their mother languages. According to the reading, this dual language education has been successful, and students can handle two languages fluently. Moreover, some school organise this dual language education even for students whose native languages are English. I disagree with this education system because equitable education must be regarded at least in public schools. I suppose that we cannot make agreeable selection of language in the multicultural society. Therefore, I would suggest the education which will make ‘global citizenship’.
One of the authoritative international organizations, Oxfam, defines the global citizen as people who is “aware of the wider world and has a sense of their own role as a world citizen”, “respects and values diversity” and “is outraged by social injustice” (Oxfam Education). It is obviously important to have one common language, which means English, in order to communicate each other and create better society altogether. However, more importantly, we need to welcome the diversity of sense of values and respect them each other. In this context, the compulsory dual language education does not make sense at all. The objective of the dual education system is to preserve the original culture. But in my opinion, it is possible to maintain own original culture even we speak English because what makes society tied is not the language, but the common hope for the peaceful society. We can have two identities; our original culture identity and the identity as global citizen.
I have asked my European friends about their identity. They told me that they have two identities as their origin countries, such as Italian or German, and as the citizen in European Union. They speak different languages but they share the same future goals for the peaceful society. And their sense of identity has been built through the education. Therefore, I believe that it is possible to have more than two identities at the same time and to create diverse, but peaceful society. The lost of linguistic unity in the immigrants’ society does not lead to the chaotic society. It means that people create whole new identities as their original countries’ citizen and as the member of this planet. The common hope is much more important than forcing to speak fixed language. Lastly, I would quote the speech of the President Barack Obama:
“I believe we can keep the promise of our founding, the idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, abled, disabled, gay or straight.” (Guardian.co.uk, 2012, cited in http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/07/barack-obama-speech-full-text)
As President Obama declared, it does not matter what kind of identity we have. The most important thing is that we respect the diversity and go forward for the creation of unified society as a member of global citizens.
Guardian.co.uk (2012), Barack Obama’s victory speech – full text, [online]. Available: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/07/barack-obama-speech-full-text [2012, November 11]
Oxfam Education, What is Global Citizenship?, [online]. Available: https://www.oxfam.org.uk/education/gc/what_and_why/what/ [2012, November 11]
Portes, A (2002) ‘English-only triumphs, but the costs are high’. SAGE Journals, vol. 1, February, pp 10-15.