You know Barack’s going to take some serious heat for this. Read the video comments.
It’s no secret that the nativists in this country aren’t too intelligent. If they had a few more functioning brain cells, they’d realize that expanding your mind’s capacity with additional mental challenges (such as learning a foreign language) when it’s still developing is a good idea. Maybe they have only a few brain cells that work and are worried about burning them out. Maybe they’re worrying that the American Idol kids are going to start belting out Spanish canciones and they won’t be able to sing along. Maybe they worry that the local Walmart will start listing prices in Spanish pesos, rendering their English dollars worthless.
The fact is that most of the developed world does speak some basic English. But knowing the language of our trading partners and neighbors only gives you advantages and opens up opportunities. Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Portuguese, Japanese, Russian – all of these make sense to learn in a practical sense. Euro-nostalgics who want their children to learn French or German aren’t harming their children, even if these languages don’t have the same practical value.
If you need to see a positive example at work, look at Scandinavia. Pretty much everyone there is fully bilingual, in their native language and English (and many are multilingual). And it’s one of the most economically productive areas of the world. I remember only one person on my trip to Copenhagen that didn’t speak English. He was a trash collector.