Jarrod Cook

Professor Liliana Naydan

English 15, Section 15

12 October 2004

Journal Prompt #10

There is no denying that English is the primary language and will continue to be, but how English is defined and taught is where the speculation begins.  None of these writings make an attempt to discredit English as the acceptable language, but aim at persuasion against or for the use of other languages as well.  America is referred to as the melting pot due to its large diversity in nationalities throughout its general population.  A need for a national language is still a necessity for communication on a large scale throughout the country.  English should be taught to all immigrants, but the method in which this is done is often disputed.  Some believe that immigrant students should be taught English in a “sink or swim” style and continue the rest of there studies in English.  Several states take this stance creating English only laws, which deny citizens the use of materials in alternate languages.  Although this method does force the immigrants to pick up English in order to live productive lives in a functioning society, it denies them a sense of ethnic background.  For this reason others believe that the student’s natural language should be used to foster their education in the art of English.  This method often proves better results in students in their reflected grades and standardized testing scores.  It provides students with materials in there own language while they take the time to develop there English skills until they can function normally in English taught classes.

The perspective in which the person views the matter often causes the opinions to be biased in a certain direction.  It has long been disputed as to whether Ebonics is an accredited form of English or just “bad” English.  Often a viewpoint on this will depend on the society in which you grew up.  If you used Ebonics as a form of language in your everyday life you are going to be accustomed to it and the meanings of the terms.  Those who argue for Ebonics state that the language has developed a “stylistic” manner by which African Americans can better express ideas.  There are others that view Ebonics as improper English that has hindered their growth in both their education and career.  The essay by Eldridge Cleaver forms a very strong opinion on this side of the argument.  It clearly states how English needs to be taught to all those students who use Ebonics.  He does not however argue for the elimination of a second language, but states how it is to complement the English language.  This is a point on which all of these authors agree, because English is necessary to all successful American Citizens.  They all decide that English needs to be taught to all students, but their natural language should not be erased.  It is important for the student to embrace their heritage while developing the English language used as a medium in this country.