Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Requiring "English ability" is a bad idea

Submitted to the Washington Post, August 2, 2017.

The Trump/GOP immigration proposal includes "English ability" as a factor in determining eligibility ("Trump, GOP senators introduce bill to slash legal immigration levels,” August 2).
This is another example of sloppy, uniformed policy making by this administration.  Studies show consistently that immigrants succeed in acquiring English.  According to the 2012 Census, 15% of the foreign-born population in the US speak English at home and another 56% speak English either "very well" or"well" – a total of over 70%.  Over 90% of the children of immigrants speak English well or very well.
Even if there were a need for an English-language requirement, making it mandatory before immigrants arrive favors language schools in other countries at the expense of our own ESL programs, and ignores the obvious advantage of acquiring the language while living in the country in which it is spoken.
Finally, such a requirement requires language testing,  a huge and unnecessary expense.

Stephen Krashen

Original article:

Gambino, C.,  Acosta, Y., and Grieco, E. 2014.  English-speaking Ability of the Foreign-Born Population in the United States, 2012.  United States Census Bureau.
Pew Research Center, 2013. Second Generation Americans, A Portrait of Adult Children of Immigrants

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