We’ve got a long way to go

What she wore: Giant t-shirt that says, "don’t worry, be Hopi"; Blue jeans covered in paint; brown paint-covered sneakers.  I spent the day at an artists’s work shop.

I watched news last night and it stated that an Amendment was passed declaring English as the official language of America.


I’m not going to argue the merits of this amendment.


But it does make me think about a situation at school.  We have two cousins at school who are natives of Mexico.  They are in class together and one knows a lot of English and the other know very little.  He’s only been in the country about two months.  The two cousins banter back in forth in Spanish, which drives the other kids crazy.  They will claim that the boys are talking about them, or say that they are being cursed at.  Mind you, these kids mutter crap at each other in English ALL DAY LONG.   Also keep in mind that they are in eighth grade and should have outgrown tattling.  


One of the other teachers made an executive decision—she told the students “you’re not allowed to speak Spanish any more.”  Her logic is, I can’t understand him, so he shouldn’t be able to communicate.  NEVER MIND THAT NO ONE SPEAKS SPANISH AND, THEREFORE, NO ON KNOWS WHAT HE IS SAYING.   The other day he said “word” in Spanish and the kids claimed he was cursing. 


Plus, somehow this gives other students the right to scream, “Speak English,” or “this is America, speak English” at the boy.  Ahhh, yes, let’s teach our children tolerance. 


We talk all the time about preparing our kids for “the real world.”  Here’s the deal: people will speak many various languages in the real world.  And screaming at them won’t make them stop.


In my family, we were always taught that what makes us different is what makes us interesting.  I believe that this is why I enjoy my job so much—all the different people.  I don’t want to live in a world where we teach our children to fear and hate for no good reason.  Once we open that door, there’s no closing it. 





About takedeux

In one summer I had a baby who was hospitalized for five weeks, quit my job, and moved back to my hometown. This blog is about starting over.
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21 Responses to We’ve got a long way to go

  1. Dena Marie says:

    Hey, KM!
    Your hubbie\’s going to be back soon??? Yay!!! I\’m so happy for you… just don\’t forget to open the windows and buy a few fans… you know, on account of the gas and stinky socks.  🙂  As for this latest entry, I\’m not quite sure what I think about not allowing students to speak other languages in class. I\’ve known some teachers who make all students speak English in order to force them to learn the language better. Hmmm… I\’ll have to keep thinking about this one. Thanks for yet another thoughtful entry.

  2. Lisi says:

    just passing by to say hello.
    I think one of the mexico cousins can develop English faster if he tried harder not to speak spanish in class.
    by the way, your blogs are outstanding and they sure grab a readers interest.

  3. Unknown says:

    I\’ve had this issue in the workplace before and I found it frustrating and the customers found it intolerable. 
    I agree that anything said should be said in a nice way. 

  4. Dennis says:

    You are so right about teaching our children to be intolerant.  Imagine if that teacher were detained somewhere in a foreign country with another American.  But because everyone else couldn\’t speak english, she was told not to speak her native languauge. 
    For a culture that is extremely limited, we can be so myopic at times.  I love how traveling in foreign countries other Americans becoming upset because there is no one who can speak THEIR language.  Excuse me???  YOU AREN\’T IN KANSAS ANYMORE!!!!    What did you expect?
    P.S.  About the flirting ………you know its all about you 😉

  5. Dennis says:

    Saw your "boob" comment on DM\’s space.  Perhaps fodder for a future blog of yours?

  6. qi says:

    I like the attitude your family have ,that is "What makes us different is what makes us interesting." THe reason why I like teaching is also that I can deal with different people, although they\’re children.hehe.

  7. Antonella says:

    I agree with you 100% on this one. I\’ve seen so many times people screaming at other people, "speak English, this is America!" I feel like screaming back, "They can do whatever they want, America is a free country!"
    I didn\’t even think about how I won\’t have to get dressed up for my phone interview!! That\’s great!

  8. Cheryl says:

    Oh that is so true.  We are teaching our children a socially acceptable racism right now.  it breaks my heart what is happening and our tolerance is dissappearing as fast as our constitution and privacy.

  9. Dena Marie says:

    Yeah — I agree with your position too. I was just responding to the general topic of whether or not to allow other languages in the classroom. Sorry for the confusion—I have a tendency to jump very quickly from specifics to generalities. So specifically on the situation you blogged about, I agree that not allowing the students to "chat" with one another in their native language is a bit prejudicial, especially when I put myself in their shoes… a minority in a foreign country, trying to learn a new language. I\’d savor every moment to speak English with native speakers that I could, and I\’d certainly resent having those moments taken away from me! Again, thanks for the great blog topic!  🙂

  10. K says:

    To tell someone to not be who they are is… welll … ignorant.  I take great issue with the new admendment… however, I am not American.  As a Canadian, I am proud of the multi-culturism and multi-linguistic country that we are.  I myself, speak, read and write fluently French and English.  I want to learn a third language… such as Spanish.  Many – if not the majority of Canadians are bilingual and the idea of telling someone that they MUST speak one language over another… just seems unconstitutional.  I do believe that immigrants should amalgamate their lifestyle with ours… but NEVER EVER give up who they are or their heritage.  Yes – learn to communicate and become law abiding citizens – but to tell someone to not communicate in their native tongue… yeah… I have a few choice words here but I shall refrain.
    I won\’t say ALL Americans are arrogant and ignorant because I know that is NOT the case.  But why is it that even when they come to visit even Canada – they want us to conform to them… instead of conforming to us?  You are after all a visitor in our land… a stranger?  There just seems to be a self of entitlement that premeates from many Americans… including your governing bodies.  That gives the wonderful Americans that I have been honored to meet… such a negative impression.  I know… not all are alike… because not all Canadians are beer drinking… eh saying… aboooot talking…. retarded cousins as we were affectionately referred to by your ruling politicians and newspapers a while back. 
    I am straying off topic… so I will get back inline here… I am more than grateful to be bilingual and find it to be huge benefit.  If I ever hear someone tell me to stop speaking French or English and/or any language that I may also learn… it won\’t be pretty.  To teach and create intolerance… NOW that should be OUTLAWED.  But then again… perhaps I am myopic?  Perhaps I have a utopian view of life? 
    Yeah… sure I do… LOL… congrats for speaking out and fighting intolerance, despite not understanding what some of your students may or may not be saying….
    Ciao bella (will blog tomorrow… )

  11. Unknown says:


  12. Nadine says:

     Once at Walmart….a couple of childrens were talkin\’ to each other in Spanish….Eudora Mae came runnin\’ up to Edith Anne and said "What are they sayin\’??" Edith Anne replied," How do I know? I only know how to count to 10!"
     A little tolerance goes a long way.
     Glad to know that you were flaunting your badself around in a white bikini!
     You have to take farts along with great ass………it\’s one of the laws of marriage!

  13. lori says:

    Kids sure can be cruel .. they don\’t seem to understand how to empathize … but that teacher should know better. 
    Are there any esl classes in your school?

  14. Laura says:

    I hear conversations like this in my classes (people saying others need to speak English- they live in America now). I always keep my mouth shut. It doesn\’t matter what people speak. I don\’t care if they make up a language. Just because there is a grocery store in your town with all Spanish food, and Spanish speaking employees… does that matter? If you moved from your native country, wouldn\’t it warm your heart to find an English-speaking Wal-Mart right around the corner?
    I know how intimidating it can be to be speaking a second language around people. Especially when they speak that language! It is so hard, and especially if that boy has only been here for two months… they need to give him a break!

  15. Alicia says:

    I think they should be allowed to speak Spanish if that\’s all they know…I think that others are uncomfortable because they have no knowledge…and that scares them.
    HUGS!!  🙂

  16. WINDOW LIVE says:

    Our school passed a rule that the kids could not speak spanish to one another.  According to them it they could be plotting something wicked.  Whatever.  Now they want to drug test all students.  I don\’t think so I will home school them the last couple of years.

  17. Carly says:

    I was going to leave a comment about this, but it would have been really, really long. So, I now have a blog entry in response to yours. What an issue. I was glad to read how open minded you are. You have no idea how rare it is. People lecture me sometimes just for learning Spanish. Sheesh. Anyway, you should check out my entry if you have time. Thanks for the inspiration. 🙂

  18. Sheryl-Ann says:

    KM, I agree with you wholeheartedly.  We do need to teach our children tolerance – it will make for better adults.  I think this all stems from just staying in your own little world rather than seeking to mix with people from different cultures and backgrounds.  When it comes right down to it, it is just ignorance (sad to say).
    I\’m proud of you for doing your part in our little world!

  19. Toni says:

    …and this is exactly why you make a good teacher. of all people, you guys should be the most open-hearted and tolerant. i\’m agreeing with you on this one–especially since the poor boy has only been here for 2 months(!) and can\’t speak english very well…come on, lighten up. it\’d be nice to hear the other students taking an interest in this language and his culture other than repeating what they hear from their parents…
       what, about a week now til the hubby gets home? oh, i\’m excited for you. and how did the artist do at her workshop? have a good night. toni

  20. . says:

    If someone sat me down or seven left me standing for that matter and kept telling me SEMA KISWAHILI (speak Swahili) I think I would burst into tears and run (I am 23) Imagine what that could do to those kids. I understand that speaking a language is the only way to learn it properly, but come on! Give them some space to feel comfortable first!

  21. Karen says:

    I agree with you.  I speak VERY LITTLE Spanish, but I\’m trying to repair that (I work as a receptionist at a Community Mental Health agency that sees quite a few Latino clients, and very few people at the agency speak anything but English); also I\’m trying to help my daughter learn a bit ~ or at least teach her that people aren\’t "talking funny" when they aren\’t speaking English (which is what she used to always say when someone was speaking a foreign language). 
    It\’s really too bad that there are a lot of adults who are so intolerant ~ because what are we teaching our children?

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