July 19, 2008

We the People - The importance of being bilingual


I am a second-generation Mexican American and had to learn Spanish because I liked going to Mexico a lot. People from other countries should learn to read at least a menu in English. But it is a business decision and if brings in more business, then go for it. I think it is more embarrassing to be in a foreign county for years and not speak the host language.

— Jesus Chairez

East Dallas artist and retired federal worker

The most obvious impact of "bilingualism" is cost. This goes far beyond restaurants. I am the mayor of a small city, and in every posting we make, we are required by law to do it in Spanish. It now takes twice the effort and twice the cost and only benefits less than 0.5 percent of the population. Before retiring, I lived in seven foreign countries. Not a single one then and not a single one today requires language obligations in other than the domestic tongue.

— Duane Smith, Star Harbor

Without basic English skills, a person living in the United States is severely handicapped. Let's work to master the English language first , and anything beyond that is an added bonus.

— Anne S. Patillo, Richardson

Certainly, there is nothing wrong with bilingualism, and, in fact, it can be quite beneficial to speak multiple languages. However, a common language shared by all citizens is the fabric that holds a society together. Without the commitment to assimilation demonstrated by learning the primary language of one's chosen country, the country's sense of shared identity is threatened and that which divides a country makes it weaker.

— Warren D. Caldwell, Richardson

I am a retired Latin teacher, and I can read Spanish, Italian, and French, but I cannot speak any of the Romance languages. I wish I could. However, I think as many people as possible should study another language. My grandchildren have studied Spanish, French and Chinese, and I am glad that they have this interest. As to Spanish menus, I think this would be an encouragement to those who have neglected to learn English, to continue to stick to their Spanish. Maybe the Spanish menus should be passed out to English-speaking people to encourage them.

— Dorothy Ivey, Dallas

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