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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Monolingualism is for dumb Gringos

A man behind him in line asked loud enough for all of us to hear, “Do you know what it is called when someone speaks three languages? Trilingual. When someone speaks two languages? Bilingual. Do you know what we call someone around here who only knows one language?” The man squirmed and indicated no. “We call that person a dumb Gringo.”
The man got red in the face while the rest of us laughed.
I was thinking of that exchange the other day. Actually, when a person only speaks one language that person is monolingual. The United States is the only major country in the world that politically pushes monolingualism, and I believe the gap in academic achievement between students in other countries and those in the United States can be traced right to this issue.


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