American Thinker published a column by Edward Bernard Glick about his grandmother and her insistence on learning English when she emigrated to America. I’m not above giving some help to immigrants, but I believe she mostly had the right attitude:
She came to America at 13, speaking only Yiddish. When she died some 70 years later, her Yiddish was still perfect. But so was her English. That’s because in the 1920s, teachers and parents did not know about diversity training and political correctness. So they placed her in classes with much younger English-speaking kids. She was ashamed and angry at first, but by the end of the school year she had conquered the national language of the United States. As an adult, she got hooked on New York Times crossword puzzles, which she always worked with a pen. She was very proud of that.
She believed it shouldn’t cost the government an extra dime to bring foreign-born kids up to linguistic snuff. After living in California for 25 years, she opposed bilingual education and ESL (English-as-a-second-language) programs because she observed that they cost too much, took too long, and didn’t work. She used to say that If she had been subjected to ESL and bilingual education as kid she’d now be speaking “Yinglish,” which she defined as Yiddish with an American accent and English with a Yiddish accent.
My wife and I have often discussed what would happen if we needed to move back to her country of birth. Chances are enough people in business speak English I could get along okay. But I would never presume for a moment that I would not need to learn Finnish, or that my kids should get bilingual education at the government’s expense. As difficult a language as Finnish can be, we would still need to learn it. When in Rome, and all that.
Should immigrants get help adjusting to America? Certainly. But that’s what families and churches are for. The government need not get involved, especially with programs that leave immigrants dependent on others to help them get through basic life activities. We’re doing them no favors if they are unable to fend for themselves in their new country because some people think they should be coddled along.
Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox now.