Linguistic patriotism

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Patriotic Teen Fails Spanish

This is The Onion, of course, but this (also this and this) isn't.



27 Comments

  1. Graeme said,

    March 24, 2011 @ 7:35 am

    My Dad tried to boycott compulsory Latin at his state run school (Queensland, 1940s). After two years he won the battle of intransigence with his principal after he scored 24%.

    (Nb I do realise Spanish is a somewhat more living romance tongue, and that no Romans ever graced Aussie shores).

  2. Dan Lufkin said,

    March 24, 2011 @ 8:05 am

    In 1918 the Board of Education in New York City voted to forbid the teaching of German in high school. Read the arguments pro & con here. Recall that Arizona forbids "ethnic" classes.

  3. Ellen K. said,

    March 24, 2011 @ 9:03 am

    Graeme, what is "Nb" mean?

  4. N said,

    March 24, 2011 @ 9:08 am

    NB stands for Nota Bene, 'note well' or 'note that…'

  5. Jonathan Badger said,

    March 24, 2011 @ 9:09 am

    No Romans in Oz? Then how did it get a name like the Latin Australia? That's very misleading — makes one think there was a Roman settlement of Sidneium…

  6. Bob Lieblich said,

    March 24, 2011 @ 9:09 am

    @Ellen K.

    Betcha "Nb" is what Americans would write "N.B." — Nota bene. I take Graeme's use of it as ironic.

  7. Ellen K. said,

    March 24, 2011 @ 9:19 am

    @Bob Lieblich. If I was familiar with "nota bene" and it's abbreviated form, I would have gotten "Nb" just fine. I wasn't.

  8. Paul said,

    March 24, 2011 @ 10:20 am

    Mark,
    Two of the links are to the same article (which totally proves the point regardless). Was there another link you meant to insert?

    [(myl) Yes -- fixed now.]

  9. blahedo said,

    March 24, 2011 @ 11:00 am

    The actual letter from the substitute teacher (of language arts!) is quite poorly written. "Are we not a conquer nation?", indeed. I wish I could say I was surprised.

  10. Julia Deak said,

    March 24, 2011 @ 1:28 pm

    I don't know how true the substitute teacher's claims were in that letter, but I urge you all to go volunteer in one of the public high schools in West Philadelphia and see for yourselves the results of some very deep problems in our society that have indeed left many children in a position of thinking they live in a racist society that is always against them, and leaving them unwilling or unable to learn the way we are trying to teach them. Of course, their attitudes don't indicate that we should kick them all out of the schools and the country, but rather that we have to find ways to better integrate our society and end racist or anti-poor policies and practices. Racial profiling, locking up large numbers of these children's fathers, and adopting English Only (or Standard English Only) policies all make things worse.

  11. Peter Taylor said,

    March 24, 2011 @ 1:30 pm

    Video doesn't work for me. Is there anything more to it than just the one-line summary?

    [(myl) Perhaps you have an antique browser that doesn't support iframe video embedding? Anyhow, the link to The Onion's site should still work.]

  12. J. W. Brewer said,

    March 24, 2011 @ 1:40 pm

    What, he wasn't patriotic enough to fail French? Even for satirical purposes, I think the issues presented by a) how immigrant non-native-Anglophone students should be educated in U.S. public schools; and b) whether native-born Anglophone students should be required to take a foreign language, and if so which one (or selected from which list) don't have all that much to do with each other. (Indeed, that the Onion kid's Spanish teacher had a very Anglo-sounding name rather than herself sounding like a potentially threatening unassimilated immigrant was presumably part of the joke.)

  13. Stephen Nicholson said,

    March 24, 2011 @ 3:05 pm

    Silly kid. He's worried about Spanish.

    If you're going to adopt false patriotism, I'd be anti-chineese. There's a lot of them in the world, they're stereotypically hardworking rather than stereotypically lazy, and there is a large number of Americans who study their culture as a hobby.

    This reminds me of when Japan was going to take over the U.S., back when I was in high school.

  14. GeorgeW said,

    March 24, 2011 @ 3:23 pm

    No, no, the stereotypical anti-real American is French.

  15. Sili said,

    March 24, 2011 @ 3:24 pm

    (Nb I do realise Spanish is a somewhat more living romance tongue, and that no Romans ever graced Aussie shores).

    I don't think any shore has been grateful the Romans, so I don't know about their "gracing" Oz.

    I think we need to ask if there any sheep of Italian extraction grazing the Southern Land.

  16. J Lee said,

    March 24, 2011 @ 3:51 pm

    "Based on the District's current investigation, which includes interviews with students and the teacher for whom Mr. Hill was a substitute, the District believes that the statements made by Mr. Hill in regard to our students and school were not accurate. Students who were interviewed did not recall making or hearing any of the inflammatory statements attributed to them by Mr. Hill, and students also said they stood for the daily recital of the Pledge of Allegiance."

    after such a thorough investigation i have no trouble believing some guy fabricated a story about 30 schoolchildren to write to his state legislators.
    were there not massive protests/walkouts in 05/06 where literally millions of illegals openly expressed exactly those sentiments? demography is no conspiracy theory. but of course there was no way the school board could do anything but throw this hapless guy under the bus.

  17. Stephen Nicholson said,

    March 24, 2011 @ 4:50 pm

    The only evidence I consider reliable, out of all the pieces of evidence the school district gave, is that the district said that the lesson was for the children to write a letter to the senator expressing approval or disapproval of the his stance.

    By contrast, in Mr. Hill's letter said that assignment was to praise the senator for his stance. Either Mr. Hill is lying, or he misunderstood the assignment as it was conveyed to him.

    The district said: "…students were asked to write a letter in which they took a position either for or against statements made by Sen. Gallardo."

    This is a fairly typical assignment for middle school kids, because it's essentially a pretext to write a persuasive essay on a specific topic. By contrast, writing a letter "…thanking [the state senator] for his position on Illegal Immigration rights," seems a little far fetched to me.

    Also, it's fairly easy to find out what a particular day's lesson plan was and to review the letters to see if they express gratitude or are of an persuasive nature.

  18. Peter Taylor said,

    March 24, 2011 @ 5:03 pm

    [(myl) Perhaps you have an antique browser that doesn't support iframe video embedding? Anyhow, the link to The Onion's site should still work.]

    Sorry, there's an ambiguity in my previous post which is easier to resolve in the way I didn't intend it. This video in particular doesn't work – it gives a message "Stream not found" – although now that I look more closely the stream it's not finding is the advert before the video. Maybe the content distribution network's Spanish server is down. Anyway, the question stands: is there anything worthwhile to be gained by watching the video rather than reading the summary

    Jean Anne Whorton goes Beyond The Facts, talking to the high school sophomore who has become a conservative hero for refusing to learn his Spanish vocabulary.

    ?

  19. Rod Johnson said,

    March 24, 2011 @ 5:40 pm

    I choose to read mixed-case "Nb" as Niobium. Admittedly that renders Graeme's comment somewhat puzzling.

  20. Jeff Prucher said,

    March 25, 2011 @ 12:26 am

    @Sili: what, not even the Lavinian shores?

  21. Anna Phor said,

    March 25, 2011 @ 9:07 am

    @ JW Brewer–actually, the education of English learner kids has a LOT to do with the foreign-language education of native/fluent English speaking kids, particularly in regions (like Arizona, where the substitute teacher was located) where the population of English learner kids is linguistically homogenous. In many parts of the country with homogenous English learner populations (e.g. CA, TX), many schools institute bilingual education programs, and where they have BOTH English learner and fluent English speaking kids they might have two-way bilingual programs, where the aim is biliteracy in both English and Spanish for all the enrolled kids.

    It's not a co-incidence that this kind of program is currently illegal in Arizona, which mandates that all English learner students be placed in a "Structured English Immersion" program. The definition of the SEI program is 4 hours daily of "English Language Development" classes which should focus on phonology, morphology, syntax and the lexicon. (http://www.ade.az.gov/ELLTaskForce/2008/SEIModels05-14-08.pdf)

    Needless to say, four hours a day of drill on component parts of the language doesn't really result in students who speak English well, nor does it allow for students to properly learn grade-level math, science, or history. Those more cynical than I have suggested that this is in fact a feature, not a bug.

  22. Euro language teacher said,

    March 25, 2011 @ 1:30 pm

    This has got to be satire.

    Someone at FOX News decided to get back at The Onion and The Language Log and posted this caricature of a bleeding heart's gushing "poor dears, it's our fault" platitudes… right?

    [quote="Julia Deak"]I don't know how true the substitute teacher's claims were in that letter, but I urge you all to go volunteer in one of the public high schools in West Philadelphia and see for yourselves the results of some very deep problems in our society that have indeed left many children in a position of thinking they live in a racist society that is always against them, and leaving them unwilling or unable to learn the way we are trying to teach them. Of course, their attitudes don't indicate that we should kick them all out of the schools and the country, but rather that we have to find ways to better integrate our society and end racist or anti-poor policies and practices. Racial profiling, locking up large numbers of these children's fathers, and adopting English Only (or Standard English Only) policies all make things worse.[/quote]

  23. Ray Dillinger said,

    March 25, 2011 @ 1:44 pm

    When will these idiots get it? Spanish and English are both American languages, because there are Americans who natively speak them.

  24. Rodger C said,

    March 25, 2011 @ 6:07 pm

    @Jeff Prucher: Not according to the Rutulians.

  25. minus273 said,

    March 26, 2011 @ 10:17 am

    @Ray Dillinger: In the same time, to a lot, both are not American languages.

  26. Graeme said,

    March 27, 2011 @ 5:47 am

    (nb to self: remove auto-capitalization on first line function from iPhone.)

  27. Kyle Johnson said,

    March 27, 2011 @ 11:48 am

    A very unfortunate choice of names on the part of the Onion. Though this may be just what I need to launch a bid for Scott Brown's seat in the Senate.

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