THE IMPORTANCE OF ENGLISH PROFICIENCY FOR ALL STUDENTS — BY DR. DONALD MAY, M.D.

Nov 10, 2011 by

Donald May, MD (Lubbock, Texas) sent me the following response after reading my 11.7.11 article entitled “Why Not Oust Bilingual Education.” — http://educationviews.org/2011/11/06/why-not-oust-bilingual-ed-and-use-lackland-air-force-bases-approach/

From Dr. May:

I find bilingual issues quite disturbing. Like welfare, bilingual education is a means of keeping large numbers of our population poorly educated and dependent. It is also a means of providing high paying jobs to a lot of persons who pay teacher union dues.

I believe all public education in the United States should be in American English. I attended a retina surgery meeting in Rome a few weeks ago. The entire meeting was in American English, as are all the professional meetings to which I am invited in China, Japan, Germany, and other countries.

I was among the early foreign “experts” invited to the People’s Republic of China in 1980. My Chinese retina surgery colleagues requested lectures in American English because they understood its importance. I spoke in October 2011 at the Chinese American Ophthalmology Society meeting in Orlando. The many Chinese ophthalmologists in attendance from China and many other countries all had American English in common.

I have been told by US engineering companies that they preferentially hire engineers who have been trained in their native countries of Germany, Switzerland, and Austria because they can communicate better in American English than do many US born and trained engineers.

My 4 grandparents all spoke German at home. This was in the 1890s and early 20th Century. They went off to grammar school and were doing fine with English within a week. All spoke American English without any German accent. They thought bilingual education was a national disgrace. Both grandmothers blamed bilingual education on women having the vote, which they claimed was the beginning of the end for our country.

While I was in grammar school and living on our family farm in Illinois, transient workers from Mexico would come through our area each year to work on the farms. Their children had no problems learning and speaking English, and it was never brought up as an issue. When the children attended our grammar school, they had no apparent problems with American English.

Children not highly competent in American English will be at a great loss in life no matter where they work on Earth.

Children, in my opinion, should be conversant in one or two languages other than American English before graduating from high school. This should not be at the expense of having an American English course every semester of their life until at least their second or third year of college.

I am also of the opinion that students should have at least two years of Latin at the start of high school, as Latin is the foundation of the English language. I remain of the opinion that my first course in Latin was one of the two most valuable courses of my life, with the first semester of high school Algebra being the other.

 

 

Donald R May, MD, FACS

Lubbock, Texas

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