As an English teenager, I always felt that it was wrong for foreign languages to be on public notices and pamphlets. It progressively became worse as I grew older. Every product for sale came with instructions in ten different languages, ranging from French to Urdu. I held the common belief that if someone were to migrate to England, then that person should learn the language and follow the culture. After all, I told myself; if they preferred the culture and values of their own country, then they would not have emigrated.
The local public hospital entry sign read 'hospital' in translations that did not even use the Roman/Latin alphabet. If this was solely because of the life saving agenda of the hospital, then I would not have had too many complaints, but this was not the case. Every leaflet at the town hall printed in English was also printed in almost every other language in the world. The situation worsened until they rarely had any English options available due to lack of funds. This was largely due to so many funds for immigrants, black rights and diversity projects that the government seemed to have forgotten about the native English. The extreme multiculturalism even went to the point of forbidding the Britons from flying British flags during football season (or any other time) for fear of offending immigrants.
When I came to America, I expected everything to be in English. I had heard about how patriotic the Americans were, but despite this, I was still shocked at how many flags were on display. There was an overwhelming sense of national pride amongst the Yanks. Then I visited Walmart (known as 'Asda' to the British) to find that every sign displayed was repeated in Spanish underneath it. Every product for sale which requires assembly arrives with two manuals, the Spanish and the English version.
In the past, all nationalities learnt to speak English, during the foundations of America. The Scandinavians, Italians, French, Austrians, Portuguese, Germans, Poles, and Hungarians all learnt English. The language was one of the many things which united the States. Nobody assumed that these nationalities lacked the intelligence to learn a new language. Many immigrants had to learn a whole new alphabet; including the Greeks, Russians, Turks, Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans. So why are Americans now being pressured to learn Spanish while being in their own country? Even more ludicrous: why is Spanish being taught to 5-year-old American children in public schools before they have even mastered English?
People are now expected to assume that because Mexican immigrants may have had a history of poverty that they cannot learn another language. History proves that this is far from the case, with many of the countries named above and more. I do not underestimate the intelligence of Spanish speaking immigrants, and with all the programs that are available to teach English, there is no need to translate every form, sign, and document. If I were Hispanic, then I would take such translations to be insulting of my intelligence.
I grew up in a country with decimated moral values, where our national sovereignty was being surrendered, and where we were not allowed to fly the nation's flag without special permission from the local city council. England is an example of what could happen to the U.S., and I want Americans to think about this when they hand out bilingual leaflets, and are trying to make things easier for Spanish speaking people. Americans need to consider what they are surrendering, and whose side they are on.