Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-99c86f546-5rzhg Total loading time: 0.338 Render date: 2021-12-02T06:52:49.386Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

4 - Language and Education

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 August 2016

Douglas A. Kibbee
Affiliation:
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Get access

Summary

From the earliest days of the Republic, government at all levels has recognized its vital interest in education. An educated citizenry is crucial to participation in government and to economic productivity. To achieve these goals competence in languages other than English has sometimes been perceived as a threat, sometimes as a boon. Equality and liberty are at play, invoking the competing powers of the levels of government in a federal system and the competing powers of the divisions of government in our checks-and-balances system.

What is the goal of language education? For some education seeks reproduction of the dominant culture, presenting its history as the common heritage of the nation. This approach is justified as providing students with the practical knowledge necessary to function economically and socially in our society. The curriculum in the schools and the books chosen to support it teach children what it is to be American (Ramsey 2010, 9), defined, often, as white, Protestant, and of English origin. A contemporary example is E. D. Hirsch, Jr. (1988), who describes a “civil religion” and a “national vocabulary” as “national givens”: “Our civil religion defines our broadly shared values as a society, and our national vocabulary functions, or should function, as our broadly shared instrument of communication (1988, 103).” These are not, he argues, reflections of the “coherent culture of a dominant class” (ibid.). Constant through this approach, from the Know-Nothings of the 1850s to the English-only movement of the early twenty-first century, is a fear that new immigrants are different from previous immigrant groups, that they are refusing to assimilate, and that their knowledge of a second language and culture will diminish allegiance to the dominant national culture. Early in the twentieth century the Commission on Naturalization found that “the proposition is incontrovertible that no man is a desirable citizen of the United States who does not know the English language” (1905, 11). The learning of English does not mean that the mastery of the immigrants’ native language is not a valuable goal for American society. Often, however, it has been perceived as an either/or rather than a both/and proposition, and the dominant group has sabotaged English acquisition while stoutly demanding it.

Type
Chapter
Information
Language and the Law
Linguistic Inequality in America
, pp. 83 - 145
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2016

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Send book to Kindle

To send this book to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

  • Language and Education
  • Douglas A. Kibbee, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • Book: Language and the Law
  • Online publication: 05 August 2016
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139178013.005
Available formats
×

Send book to Dropbox

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

  • Language and Education
  • Douglas A. Kibbee, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • Book: Language and the Law
  • Online publication: 05 August 2016
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139178013.005
Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • Language and Education
  • Douglas A. Kibbee, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • Book: Language and the Law
  • Online publication: 05 August 2016
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139178013.005
Available formats
×