Press Two For Spanish | Teen Ink

Press Two For Spanish

December 2, 2011
By beautifulspirit PLATINUM, Alpharetta, Georgia
beautifulspirit PLATINUM, Alpharetta, Georgia
35 articles 0 photos 1398 comments

Favorite Quote:
The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
--Eleanor Roosevelt

I recently read a disturbing article that is basically a ranting about how Spanish should have no presence in American society. The article complained that having directions for both English and Spanish---and sometimes French---is annoying, or that waiting for the "Press two for Spanish" option when calling customer service is unnecessary. Also stated was that anyone should hurry and learn English if they want to continue to live in the United States. When I read this, I felt unsettled. There was some true to what the author was saying, but at the same time, they were embellishing on the issue.
My mind traveled back to my art history class, when my professor was telling us that if we ever had an interest in art history, language would be very beneficial in our career. He told us this joke: "If you are fluent in three languages, you are multilingual. If you know two languages, you are bilingual. But if you only know one language, you must be American." Now this joke bothers me---I consider our country to be one of the best. We are currently making more efforts to learn more languages; in my high school, you cannot graduate without two consecutive years of a foreign language. In my cousin’s elementary school, Mandarin Chinese is being taught to the fourth graders.
Nevertheless, this article made me think about if I were to go to Italy or Japan, would they act the same way toward me? I do believe that if you are going to spend a considerable amount of time in another country, you should take a course in that country's language.
How else are you going to function? However, I have not encountered any daily miscommunications or frequent inconveniences---actually, it rarely happens.
I feel the author is exaggerating about the influence of Spanish in the United States. Face the facts! Spanish is a growing language---just look at where we are on the map. If you do not want to learn it, you will not be forced to. If you do, then that is great.
I might bring to your attention that the first inhabitants did not speak English. The pilgrims landed here and the Native Americans were already living here. Referring back to the conquests and overtakings of the Europeans, they visited countless countries trying to "fix" what they considered "backward" civilizations. The same thing happened after the Mexican American War---Mexico lost their territory and America gained what we call the West. Therefore, a substantial Hispanic population was already living here before the war. Many cultures have died out---let us not repeat history's mistakes.
We are nation of immigrants---people have worked until their backs broke to make this country what it is today. It is not strange that we should have such a diverse population. Here is how I like to look at it: with so many people each from different backgrounds, we all like to make sure that our own traditions and cultures stay alive and preserved. This is what makes our country unique--it is not necessarily a negative, but a positive.
On another note, English is far from going extinct. At least one third of the WORLD speaks it, to some extent. It is one of the six United Nation languages---so is Spanish I might add. Over 500 million people are native speakers; this is not counting those who speak it as a second language. I realize that languages die out all the time---there used to be over 7,000 languages in existence, now there is just a measly few hundred. But honestly, English is not going anywhere.

The desire to "keep it simple" is so boring. To have a homogenous country, where everyone looks the same, speaks the same language, follows the same religion is monotonous and uninspiring. The reason I study Spanish is because it is beneficial in the United States, I live in a community where I can speak it on a regular basis, and I never tire of it. Spanish is such a beautiful language, and I hope one day, my skills rise to a master's level. I am majoring in Spanish and hoping to have Japanese as my third language, to become a translator. Our world is changing---globalization is important and is increasingly becoming significant. Communication is key.
I admit, a language barrier is not fun, but I say we take advantage of our diversity and learn from it, but if one does not want to, then that is acceptable too. That is the beauty of living in the United States. It is a country that exercises tolerance no matter how different we are. So in response to that disconcerting article, yes people should learn English if they want to be successful in this country---they should not rely solely on the fact that someone will know their language---but did you ever think that not everyone picks up a language so easily? Perhaps the "Press two for Spanish" and product instructions are there to help them. Coddling a stubborn person who refuses to learn English is not what I am saying, but a little compassion would not hurt.

The author's comments:
Recently, I read an article that screamed, "Learn our language, or go home!" I understand the frustration one must feel, when they have to communicate with a person who does not speak the language well. But at the same time, we should understand that just because there is a growing Hispanic population, English is still the dominant language. We should realize that English is not in jeopardy, and is not dying out.

Similar Articles


This article has 2 comments.

on Feb. 6 2012 at 8:17 am
beautifulspirit PLATINUM, Alpharetta, Georgia
35 articles 0 photos 1398 comments

Favorite Quote:
The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
--Eleanor Roosevelt

Thank you for your comment.

on Feb. 4 2012 at 1:35 pm
Helena_Noel BRONZE, Burnt Hills, New York
1 article 0 photos 629 comments

Favorite Quote:
“I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day; I'd rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way: The eye's a better pupil and more willing than the ear, fine counsel is confusing, but example's always clear.” -Edgar Guest

I'm sorry, I can't help but point out that you should have checked your grammar before posting, "I recently read a disturbing article that is a [rant] about..." is one error, and there is a plethora of others in there. Im not nitpicking, it is important because this whole thing is about language. People won't take you seriously if you can't speak the language you say isn't in danger. However, I do agree with on on some points. While people coming here illegally is a serious problem, and we never should have done away with the requirement that naturalized citizens learn our language, the purpose of the telephones "press two" is to be hospitable. The naturalized citezens or the workers with visas might PREFER thier language, even if they can speak english. After all, they spoke it all their lives.