EDITOR: Discussing the Edward Snowden case recently, former President Jimmy Carter said, “America does not at the moment have a functioning democracy.” I haven’t seen Carter’s remarks in any American mainstream press. It was reported from Atlanta by the German news magazine Der Spiegel. The story doesn’t appear in the English-language section of the Spiegel website and is only available in German.
How is it possible that a statement as dramatic as this from a former president of the United States of America is not front-page news in every newspaper in the U.S.?
EDITOR: Mark Wardlaw (“Being monolingual in a polyglot world,” Close to Home, July 25.) addressed a topic very close to my heart as a bilingual faculty member. I came to this country right out of high school. I spoke Spanish, learned basic German in kindergarten and French in high school, and I had to pass an English test to enter this country with a student visa. Few knew about Chile, now famous for its wines, earthquakes and 23 miners who defeated the odds.
As I educated myself about the many reasons “Americans” are monolingual, I became more sympathetic. To be politically correct, everyone born in any of the Americas — North, South or Central — is an “American.” This shows the ethnocentric approach that has made the United States an indifferent nation to the rest of a polyglot and multicultural world, as Wardlaw well expressed.
Being fluent in a second language has never been a priority on our schools’ agenda or seen as an asset because of our sociopolitical history.
Research show that the brain is at its ripest cognition between ages 6 months and 15 years. Children who become fully bilingual are those who study from kindergarten on. We need everyone to prepare for today’s global world.