The Future of US Public Primary Education

We can’t have kids taking nothing but English for a year.


Where they will receive an actual education.

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It is an objective observation based on grammatical rules. I too taught ESL and to Spanish speakers.

Spanish is much easier to learn.

I’ll take your word for Mandarin.

Well there are communities where the parents, and the neighbors, and the shopkeepers, and the employers speak only

  • Spanish,
  • Chinese,
  • Creole, and
  • Pashtun
    to name a few.

A century ago, the same could be said of

  • Italian,
  • Russian
  • Polish and
  • Cantonese

Somewhere in between we could say the same about

  • Vietnamese and
  • Khmer and
  • H’mong

People in all the first four even have tv stations, radio stations and newspapers in their parents native languages.

Prior to the current generation, all of those communities did pretty well at learning English as a second language. In the current generation all but one continues to do well.

Whatever is going on, cannot be explained by

  • “English is hard,” or
  • “The Spanish language suddenly became unique in a manner that now suddenly makes it hard for Spanish speakers to learn English.”
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Ok, if you say so.

I lived in Harrisburg PA for about a decade. In Harrisburg the Spanish speaking community can be categorized into three groups

  • Cuban
  • Puerto Rican
  • Mexican.

The Cubans, and the Puerto Ricans learn English. By the time their kids have grown their kids are linguistically indistinguishable from kids whose families came here in the 1920s.

English is mandatory at all levels of Puerto Rican public schools.

You do remember the Little Italies and Chinatowns don’t you?
I hear LA has a Little Saigon and a Koreatown. Here in the NE there are still old, once vital now dying churches where the mass is given in Serbian, in Russian, and in Greek etc…

Many people from have come from may countries speaking only their native language at home and only their native language in their communities and their kids did alright without retraining the K-12 teachers in a second language.


Yes, but that fails to explain the fact that the Cuban immigrants then, (1980s) faired as well as the as the Mexican immigrants, Italian immigrants etc. once did.

What has happened in one subgroup of America’s Spanish speaking immigrants today is not because English has gotten harder.

I’m not now living in a town with many minority families.

I wasn’t when I was new to the Forum 10 years ago, either.

I did volunteer at the elementary school back then, though, and the Hispanic students spoke English without the teachers speaking Spanish. The one little girl who came from Colombia speaking no English picked it up within 6 months with exactly one session in Spanish with me. The rest of her instruction was in English.

Students in our county seat may have Caribbean, Chinese or Vietnamese parents. Should teachers learn Mandarin & Vietnamese, too?

I say no to the idea of mandating teachers learn Spanish or any other language, but won’t lose sleep if that’s something they learn voluntarily.

Now that I remember it, there were children from Algerian, Brazilian and Moroccan families as well as one native born girl struggling for whatever reason with reading in that class.

These students were paired with a separate teacher who taught ESL and helped with those struggling, but the sessions were not conducted in any other language, so no to mandating teachers learn Spanish or any other language.

And Spanish should be taught at all levels in the rest of the US. We are basically a bilingual country now, we should fully embrace it.


So the English speaking students must learn Spanish?

There’s a joke here somewhere.

I’m not sure how it would go but the punch line would be about the fact that Cuban kids learn English while the kids from some other country say they can’t do it without a multi billion program.

How about teaching children the value of practising virtues? Maybe this kind of programme should be taught in schools.

Who here would object to the teaching of this virtues programme?

Yes. English indeed is a very hard language.

I deal with people from India on a regular basis.

They are clueless.


Not all the southern border jumpers come from Spanish speaking countries. Just because they entered the US via Mexico does not mean they all speak Spanish.

Puerto Rico is part of the United States. The students in question are American Citizens. Should the not be taught the American language which is not Spanish.


No, the teachers.