November 21, 2019

The society through the acquisition of the English language.

The language ideologies imbedded in Prop 227 and Prop 58 are numerous. Prop 227 reflects an example of iconization, an excerpt of Prop 227 reads, “(a) Whereas, The English language is the national public language of the United States of America and of the State of California, is spoken by the vast majority of California residents, and is also the leading world language for science, technology, and international business, thereby being the language of economic opportunity; and…”, Prop 227 reflects the view of English being the standard language and the link between prosperity and success, while those who speak in another language are viewed as not potentially integrating successfully in society. Proposition 227 also reflects Monoglot Standard ideology, the idea that one language is the reflection of one nation and one people. English language is viewed as the standard language of global interactions in varies markets whether economical or technological. Prop 227 and Prop 58 also demonstrate how language is an iconized link between political loyalty and the political values of the United States, Prop 227 states, ” (c) Whereas, The government and the public schools of California have a moral obligation and a constitutional duty to provide all of California’s children, regardless of their ethnicity or national origins, with the skills necessary to become productive members of our society, and of these skills, literacy in the English language is among the most important; and…” Proposition 227 targets non English speakers from immigrants’ backgrounds and this shows how our institutions find it critical for immigrants in the U.S to assimilate and successfully integrate into American society through the acquisition of the English language. The Prop uses the words “productive members of our society”, this reflects a distinction between those who know and use the Standard English language and those who do not. These words alienate the sector of society that does not know Standard English by not considering them productive members of society until they acquire the standard language. The controversy among Prop 227 and Prop 58 and the issue of bilingual education reflects the language ideology of viewing English as the proper way of speaking and tool for interaction, it reflects a particular standard that is correct.

            The dominant language ideologies of a standard language are also reflected in the reading by Edwin Battistella, “Bad Citizens”. The reading makes a link between the English language and good American citizenship. The reading expresses similarities with points made by those who support prop 58 arguing, retaining bilingual education hinders students to be able to successfully acquire the English language. The reading examines the words of Theodore Roosevelt who argues that retaining the foreign languages of immigrants is a form of “bad language”, one that gets in the way of adopting American speech and values (Battistella 2005). The idea of bad language reinforces the idea of Standard language ideology, where a certain language is viewed more correct than another language among a specific group. (Battistella 2005). For supporters of prop 58, bilingual education is not viewed as a barrier for the acquisition of the English language, but instead it is used as a tool for teaching and helping students transition from one language to the other without alienating them. The idea of a standard language and referring to a foreign language as a “bad language” places in hierarchy languages and privileges one over another.

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