Bilingual = discrimination

Bilma

Senior Member
USA
Spanish Mexico
I found this letter in a local paper in a small town in Texas

"Some months ago, I went to work for a company in xxx. Thank goodness my employer does not discriminate. Prior to finding this job, I read the classifieds faithfully and found many jobs that I felt I more than qualified for except for the "must be bilingual." What's up with that? I live in America where I was born and raised to speak English. I wonder if I spoke German if that would be enough. I don't think so. Why don't they come out and say which language you must speak.
I think we all know. If people can't speak English, they should go home or at least be expected to learn it. Why should we accommodate them. Where is the discrimination here?"

What would you say, is it descrimination? What would you tell this person?
 
  • Lombard Beige

    Senior Member
    English, Italy
    They could try reading the articles of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, which, I believe, have never been applied as they should have been (guarantees concerning the use of the Spanish language, the Catholic religion and the land grants registered by the Spanish crown).

    regards
     

    xarruc

    Senior Member
    England
    I don't see that as discrimmination if it's required that you speak both languages. Just as people who work at tourist sites often need to speak 2 or 3 languages. As I understand it, few people in the US are billingual, unlike many other places with two languages, such as Wales, Catalunya, Holland etc. Therefore it is likely that when dealing with the public, or even coworkers, you will need to speak both languages. The situation is arguably different if the population is generally bilingual. In this case I would consider it discrimination unless the job specifically involved the use of both languages, such as a receptionist, where letters may need to be read and written in both languages.

    EDIT: I would only consider the latter case dicrimmination if the billingual policy was chosen to favour one particular group, such as the Welsh in Wales.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    I wonder if I spoke German if that would be enough. I don't think so. Why don't they come out and say which language you must speak.
    I think we all know. If people can't speak English, they should go home or at least be expected to learn it. Why should we accommodate them. Where is the discrimination here?"
    The writer makes one good point, and one illogical, even stupid one. The employment advertisement should have specified which language, in addition to English, was required. That's just common sense.

    The diatribe about "people can't speak English" has nothing to do with the employment ad, as that requires people who do speak both English and another language. The implication is that the letter writer wants everyone in her community to speak or learn at least basic English, which seems sensible. The stupidity and bigotry are in the "they should go home" remark.
     

    Poetic Device

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Considering I whole-heartedly agree with the person that said that, I would tell them that they are right with everything. The discrimination has to do with the fact that we are catering to these people that are coming into our country and waiting on them hand and foot. What the writer was basically saying (incase you didn't grasp it) was that if you want to come into the country, that is fine. However, we are not going to treat you special just because you're not from around here. If I decided I wanted to live in Germany, I would hope that the people there would expect me to be able to speak a little German. I'm not saying to be an ass and not help the person, but the "new comer" should at least be able to grasp the basic idea. Not that long ago (although it seems like eons) immigrants that were coming to the U.S. were showed, taught and tested basic English skills before they came to the States. Nowadays that's all down the drain.
     

    GEmatt

    Senior Member
    English/BE, Français/CH, Deutsch/CH (rustier & rustier)
    Merriam-Webster's defines discrimination as, inter alia, the act of [making] "a difference in treatment or favor on a basis other than individual merit." On that basis alone, the example mentioned is not an instance of discrimination, but an employer's natural response with respect to an underqualified candidate.

    Why should we accommodate them.
    Well, why should a company in need of bilingual staff accommodate the writer? In effect, what is being suggested here is that, firstly and so as not to be "discriminatory", companies should employ candidates on the basis of how suitable the candidates deem themselves to be, regardless of the companies' policies or standards; and secondly, that I have every right not to further educate myself, since what I know is already sufficient, and jobs must therefore fall into my lap.
    If people can't speak English, they should go home or at least be expected to learn it.
    I don't understand how this is relevant. I don't see the need for the writer to drag foreigners into the equation (I'm assuming that by "people", that is who s/he is referring to). English isn't the problem, here; the problem is the writer's lack of the appropriate qualification.

    I'm not sure this is the place for putative career advice, but if classified after classified suggests that I don't have the necessary skill set, I'm not going to assume that they are all in the wrong; at some point, the penny will drop. All that is required here is a change of attitude (take some classes, make some bilingual friends, keep trying), or a change of track (into something less skilled and hence, logically less discriminatory), and it becomes a non-issue.
     

    Bilma

    Senior Member
    USA
    Spanish Mexico
    The writer makes one good point, and one illogical, even stupid one. The employment advertisement should have specified which language, in addition to English, was required. That's just common sense.

    The diatribe about "people can't speak English" has nothing to do with the employment ad, as that requires people who do speak both English and another language. The implication is that the letter writer wants everyone in her community to speak or learn at least basic English, which seems sensible. The stupidity and bigotry are in the "they should go home" remark.


    She is refering to Spanish. The hispanic population is growing here.
     

    GEmatt

    Senior Member
    English/BE, Français/CH, Deutsch/CH (rustier & rustier)
    The writer makes one good point, and one illogical, even stupid one. The employment advertisement should have specified which language, in addition to English, was required. That's just common sense.
    True, cuchu. It could have been clearer, and a candidate should not have to make assumptions. But then, as an enthusiastic, positive-thinking, "go-get'em" future employee, what is to stop me from taking the initiative and finding out for sure?
     

    Poetic Device

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Merriam-Webster's defines discrimination as, inter alia, the act of [making] "a difference in treatment or favor on a basis other than individual merit." On that basis alone, the example mentioned is not an instance of discrimination...

    How do you figure? If we were not treating those people differently, then we would not need bilingual employees in order to communicate in our own country. (Should I continue this rant and explain what I mean?)
     

    Bilma

    Senior Member
    USA
    Spanish Mexico
    Considering I whole-heartedly agree with the person that said that, I would tell them that they are right with everything. The discrimination has to do with the fact that we are catering to these people that are coming into our country and waiting on them hand and foot. What the writer was basically saying (incase you didn't grasp it) was that if you want to come into the country, that is fine. However, we are not going to treat you special just because you're not from around here. If I decided I wanted to live in Germany, I would hope that the people there would expect me to be able to speak a little German. I'm not saying to be an ass and not help the person, but the "new comer" should at least be able to grasp the basic idea. Not that long ago (although it seems like eons) immigrants that were coming to the U.S. were showed, taught and tested basic English skills before they came to the States. Nowadays that's all down the drain.

    We have the same problem with people from USA who go to Can Cun or San Miguel de Allende Mexico, and do not speak a word of Spanish, expect to be spoken in English and are treated special in Mexican soil, it seems that you are in USA when you go to those towns, all priced in dollars, all you hear is English, etc.

    Or thousands of jobs where you do not get it if you do not speak English (In Mexico or anywhere else) because the company does business with companies from the USA.

    I understand what the person is saying on the letter. I just think all countries have the same issue with English (or any other language, i.e. Finland with Russian). He/she does not seem to see beyond her little world.
     

    Thomsen

    Senior Member
    English USA
    It's not discrimination. Would it be discrimination to ask if they had other job skills such as computer programming or lifting heavy objects. If it's required for the job and I assume that the office serves a bilingual community it's completely appropriate.

    Not that I don't sympathize for the plight of people who have seen themselves becoming increasingly unskilled dued to the plight of the job market, but it's the equivalent of factories moving overseas. It's part of the evolution of the (in this case, local) economy.

    And, Bilma, surely there must be plenty of Mexicans who complain about the treatment by monolingual Americans and companies that require them to speak English. It can't be a one-way street.
     

    GEmatt

    Senior Member
    English/BE, Français/CH, Deutsch/CH (rustier & rustier)
    Should I continue this rant and explain what I mean?
    Please do. You can see I'm not from the US, so I'm reacting to what immediately strikes me in the letter (which seems a general issue), but without local knowledge.

    I did not read it as needing bilingual employees in order for you to communicate in your own country, but as xyz company's employment policy of the moment. You're saying that such a company would be discriminating in favour of Spanish speakers at the expense of non-Spanish speakers like the writer, because otherwise they would not be able to function? I'd be glad for your explanation.

    Cheers,
    GEmatt


    Edit: Maybe just to make my position clear: I understand discrimination as being on the basis of ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or any combination of these (the afore-mentioned "other than merit"). Along these lines, the writer may well have been discriminated against, but I don't see any hint of such treatment in the letter. Not getting a job because one doesn't have what it takes is too bad, but unsurprising and hardly discrimination.
     

    karuna

    Senior Member
    Latvian, Latvia
    Although it is a normal business to require bilinguials for some jobs, there is some irony in it. These are usually the lowest paid employees who need to speak both English and Spanish. For managers and skilled workers in the USA English would normally suffice, and definitely for upper management or CEO there no need to know any other language besides English. Often you can even become a director of a foreign branch in another country without speaking local language.

    Yet a minimum wage worker at the counter needs to speak at least two languages. It is hard to imagine that such people have the means – time and money – to learn another language to adjust their qualifications for changing job market. And if they are able to go to school, then studying something else rather than languages would be much more profitable. So, basically it is that employers want more qualifications but not pay for them.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    How do you figure? If we were not treating those people differently, then we would not need bilingual employees in order to communicate in our own country. (Should I continue this rant and explain what I mean?)

    You have fallen into the same trap as the letter writer, that of making unsubstantiated assumptions, jumping to conclusions, and using the employment ad as a pretext to vent about what may be an entirely unrelated topic.

    The ad does state that a second language is required.
    According to Bilma, but not according to either the ad or the letter, that second language is Spanish.

    OK, let's go with the assumption that the second language is Spanish. That the first language is
    English would be logical, given that the ad was printed in English.

    Here is where both you and the letter writer make a great leap into the realm of the illogical-- you automatically assume that the second language, Spanish if you will, is a job requirement for dealing with people in the company's local market, and that this market is in the US.

    I used to work for a company in Connecticut. We once advertised for a bi-lingual EN/SP speaker to work in one of our departments. Why? Because the job required daily dealings with our dealer network and customers throughout Latin America. The bilingual requirement for a job may be totally unrelated to immigration, the rate at which immigrants do or don't learn English, and how the world should run in general.

    The letter writer appears to be quicker to get on her horse and belly-ache about her issue, which you seem to share, than to consider that there may be a valid business motive for seeking a bi-lingual employee.
     

    Poetic Device

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    We have the same problem with people from USA who go to Can Cun or San Miguel de Allende Mexico, and do not speak a word of Spanish, expect to be spoken in English and are treated special in Mexican soil, it seems that you are in USA when you go to those towns, all priced in dollars, all you hear is English, etc.

    Or thousands of jobs where you do not get it if you do not speak English (In Mexico or anywhere else) because the company does business with companies from the USA.

    I understand what the person is saying on the letter. I just think all countries have the same issue with English (or any other language, i.e. Finland with Russian). He/she does not seem to see beyond her little world.

    Is this with trhe toursist or all around? Just curious. All around it's not to do that in your country. If the company does business internationally, though, that's different. However, it is ridiculous if Burger King™ has to have aconsiderable percentage of their employees to be multilingual. As far as the position in question is concerned, I think that it is important to know what the position is exactly in order to judge.
     

    ILT

    Senior Member
    México - Español/Castellano
    I definitely don't see much relation between the request for an applicant to be bilingual and the discrimination issue. The company needs a bilingual employee to carry out its business. The company wants to hire an employee with those qualifications. I think this case is similar to those companies requiring engineers to have studies in business administration; or one that needs a salesperson with certain computer skills. The company is in the business of doing business, and therefore will seek employees with the qualificiations needed to stay in business.
     

    Poetic Device

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    You have fallen into the same trap as the letter writer, that of making unsubstantiated assumptions, jumping to conclusions, and using the employment ad as a pretext to vent about what may be an entirely unrelated topic.

    The ad does state that a second language is required.
    According to Bilma, but not according to either the ad or the letter, that second language is Spanish.

    OK, let's go with the assumption that the second language is Spanish. That the first language is
    English would be logical, given that the ad was printed in English.

    Here is where both you and the letter writer make a great leap into the realm of the illogical-- you automatically assume that the second language, Spanish if you will, is a job requirement for dealing with people in the company's local market, and that this market is in the US.

    I used to work for a company in Connecticut. We once advertised for a bi-lingual EN/SP speaker to work in one of our departments. Why? Because the job required daily dealings with our dealer network and customers throughout Latin America. The bilingual requirement for a job may be totally unrelated to immigration, the rate at which immigrants do or don't learn English, and how the world should run in general.

    The letter writer appears to be quicker to get on her horse and belly-ache about her issue, which you seem to share, than to consider that there may be a valid business motive for seeking a bi-lingual employee.
    To GE matt and Cuchu:

    Please forgive me, but I am going to take this oppertunity to kill two birds with one stone. I't going to be basically the same thing for the both of you guys.

    FIrst off, I am going to put my disclaimer up right now. I know that I am young and if curiosity got the better of you you know how old I am. I know that I probably do not have as much experience as you two. However, I feel that I do have enough experience to say all of this because I grew up in various parts of NYC and I have been working in various places (from a fast food resteraunt to a state hospital) since I was 13.

    I am not saying that the job is discriminating. In all honesty, I can't because I do not know what the job is/was. What I am saying is that the fact that no matter where you are, in some way, there has to be some form of bilingualism is ridiculous (as I said in my last post). Also, granted it was said after I made the initial post, Bilma did state:
    She is refering to Spanish. The hispanic population is growing here.
    . This leads me to believe that the job is not for international purposes, but for commutal. You are right, though. Without Bilma saying that post I should not have assumed.
     

    Athaulf

    Senior Member
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    Considering I whole-heartedly agree with the person that said that, I would tell them that they are right with everything. The discrimination has to do with the fact that we are catering to these people that are coming into our country and waiting on them hand and foot. What the writer was basically saying (incase you didn't grasp it) was that if you want to come into the country, that is fine. However, we are not going to treat you special just because you're not from around here.

    But in this example, nobody is seeking special treatment. A businessman wishes to provide services in Spanish out of sheer profit motive, hoping to attract additional Spanish-speaking customers, and adequately skilled workers are called for. The additional cost of providing service in Spanish is borne by the Spanish-speaking customers exclusively. Where do you see any sort of "special treatment" there? Unless you consider that tailoring one's services to the customers' preferences is "special treatment," in which case "special treatment" is an essential requirement for any business whatsoever.

    If I decided I wanted to live in Germany, I would hope that the people there would expect me to be able to speak a little German. I'm not saying to be an ass and not help the person, but the "new comer" should at least be able to grasp the basic idea. Not that long ago (although it seems like eons) immigrants that were coming to the U.S. were showed, taught and tested basic English skills before they came to the States. Nowadays that's all down the drain.
    Actually, until several decades ago, anyone (certainly anyone European) could travel and even immigrate into the U.S. and most other Wester countries without any need for visas, passports, and similar bureaucratic garbage, and millions of people actually did. And not only that they weren't required to learn English -- many of them continued living in monolingual non-English ethnic communities, many of which existed throughout the U.S. until very recently (and some still do, like the Pennsylvania Dutch).

    It would be interesting to know to what extent the English speakers in the Upper Midwest a century ago were bitching about Norwegian and Swedish the way the above quoted Texan does about Spanish.
     

    Pedro y La Torre

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    And, Bilma, surely there must be plenty of Mexicans who complain about the treatment by monolingual Americans and companies that require them to speak English. It can't be a one-way street.

    If you live in the U.S. you are required to speak English, if you live in Quebec you are required to speak French, if you live in Austria you are required to speak German. I don't see what's unfair about that.
     

    Poetic Device

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    So are you saying that the Texan does not have the right to "bitch" about this? Be it about the ad itself or the fact that she has to learn a second language to accomodat those who are not of her country?
     

    Bridgita

    Banned
    Inglés-USA
    So are you saying that the Texan does not have the right to "bitch" about this? Be it about the ad itself or the fact that she has to learn a second language to accomodat those who DO NOT WISH TO LEARN THE LANGUAGE OF THE COUNTRY THAT THEY CHOSE TO MOVE TO?

    Can I say without getting crucified:eek: ----

    A lot of people say that people don't speak english out of lack of money, resources ect. But in many cases, they couldn't care less about learning english . .. WHY . . . we will cater to them anyway . . . So instead of learning english before you go to a english speaking country . . . go there and expect them to learn your language. I understand the sentiment of the letter completely. I spend hours learning spanish for myself and my own personal education, but SOME people who immigrate to this country because of the benefits here, never bother to open a book and couldn't care less . . . my friend's mother is cuban and said she has no desire to learn english, why when everything is in english and spanish these days. . . . And you know what??? She has a point. (although I still think she should learn english.)
     

    Athaulf

    Senior Member
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    So are you saying that the Texan does not have the right to "bitch" about this? Be it about the ad itself or the fact that she has to learn a second language to accomodat those who are not of her country?

    Oh, she (he?) certainly has the right to bitch and whine; I merely reserve the right to identify bitching and whining as such. People aren't being "forced" to learn a second language any more than they are being "forced" to learn to use a computer in order to be able to get any but the most menial job these days. And she is most decidedly not supposed to be "accommodating" anyone; she is supposed to be doing what she's paid to do. If she lacks the necessary skills for that, it's purely her problem. In fact, she is the one seeking special treatment when she claims that she should be considered "more than qualified" for a job for which she doesn't even satisfy the basic requirements spelled out in the job posting.

    What's next, bitching about being "discriminated" on the basis of a lack of computer skills? I'm sure many people fondly remember the good old days when one could have a white-collar job without having to stare at the damned monitor whole day.
     

    Bilma

    Senior Member
    USA
    Spanish Mexico
    If you live in the U.S. you are required to speak English, if you live in Quebec you are required to speak French, if you live in Austria you are required to speak German. I don't see what's unfair about that.


    Tell that to the Americans that go to work to Mexico or anywhere else and expect the people to communicate with them in English!:)
     

    Thomsen

    Senior Member
    English USA
    So are you saying that the Texan does not have the right to "bitch" about this? Be it about the ad itself or the fact that she has to learn a second language to accomodat those who are not of her country?

    As someone aptly pointed out earlier. Texas used not to be "our country" but rather a province of Mexico (or Spain's Mexican territory or whatever it was at the time). So how about we give them a little slack!

    I would sure hope that if I moved to Italy (random example because I don't speak Italian) they would give me a break until my Italian was good enough to function for important transactions.

    Finally, the job may have been "created" as I think someone else pointed out merely to meet this need. It was not taking away a job, but rather creating a new one, potentially for a new market.

    Can I say without getting crucified:eek: ----

    Probably not ;)
     

    Bilma

    Senior Member
    USA
    Spanish Mexico
    As someone aptly pointed out earlier. Texas used not to be "our country" but rather a province of Mexico (or Spain's Mexican territory or whatever it was at the time). So how about we give them a little slack!


    Now, you are the one who is going to be crucified!:D :rolleyes:
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    So are you saying that the Texan does not have the right to "bitch" about this? Be it about the ad itself or the fact that she has to learn a second language to accomodat those who are not of her country?
    She has a right to write ignorant, bigoted letters to the editor. She has the right to jump to conclusions about why employers are seeking bi-lingual staff. If the quoted letter is an example of a thought process at work, she has a right to continue to dispense with logic, and declare herself a victim. Any and all of that may have nothing to do with fact and reality.

    1. If an employer needs bi-lingual staff to deal with associates in other countries, and she isn't qualified, she has a right to do what she suggests to others: learn a new language! She also has a right not to apply for the job.

    2. If an employer needs bi-lingual staff to deal with customers who speak little or no English, she has the rights detailed in #1 above.

    She doesn't have the right to tell the prospective employer not to conduct business with people who don't speak English. She doesn't have the right to tell the employer to hire monolingual staff who cannot do the job.

    If she doesn't like people who speak little or no English, that is her right. It does not confer the additional right of telling employers how to define their job qualifications.

    Let's give Texas a rest for a moment and move east to Miami. That city has become an international hub of commerce for all the Americas, including English and Spanish speaking countries. Many jobs there absolutely require both English and Spanish, and those positions may have nothing at all to do with contact with immigrants. The person who wrote the letter is not qualfied for those jobs. Period.

    Back to Texas: Many small towns in Texas are near the Mexican border. Many of them have jobs that require interaction with the maquiladora plants on the Mexican side of the border. Those maquiladora plants are owned by US firms, Korean, Japanese, German, Frence and other companies. Contact with those firms is typically in Spanish. The letter writer lacks the competence to hold jobs that require contact with the maquiladora staff. That's her problem.
    She can exercise her right to whine, or she can take the trouble to get qualified.
     

    Pedro y La Torre

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    Tell that to the Americans that go to work to Mexico or anywhere else and expect the people to communicate with them in English!:)

    Well English is the international language of commerce. Spanish isn't. But, that said, if these Americans are operating in a Spanish speaking country and conducting business with Spanish speaking customers or anywhere else for that matter, then they should absolutely be expected to at least try to speak that language.
     

    Pedro y La Torre

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    Do you think, should the US government provide subsidies for studying Spanish to less advantaged member of society who have trouble finding a job because they don't speak Spanish?

    I don't really think that's going to become a reality any time soon. From what I understand it is an absolute minority of American jobs which require Spanish speakers. Not to mention the fuss the right would kick up if any such thing were even likely to become a reality.
     

    Athaulf

    Senior Member
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    Do you think, should the US government provide subsidies for studying Spanish to less advantaged member of society who have trouble finding a job because they don't speak Spanish?

    In a way, it already does: in most places, it's possible to study Spanish in the public school system. Apparently, so far relatively few people have decided to take advantage of that possibility, but if Spanish becomes a more important asset in the future, I bet many more will.

    As a precedent of sorts, I didn't really notice that the governments in non-English-speaking countries have subsidized learning English much except for introducing it into the public school curriculum, even though in many places, it's a more important asset than Spanish is likely to become in any U.S. state in the foreseeable future.
     

    karuna

    Senior Member
    Latvian, Latvia
    As a precedent of sorts, I didn't really notice that the governments in non-English-speaking countries have subsidized learning English much except for introducing it into the public school curriculum, even though in many places, it's a more important asset than Spanish is likely to become in any U.S. state in the foreseeable future.

    Public schooling is rarely adequate. If that was working 90% of Latvian graduates would be speaking English. In real life maybe only 20% can really communicate or read in English and that only because they have received some outside help themselves (maybe watching MTV all the time). I definitely didn't learn that little English I know at school, even though we had English from the 4th grade.

    Therefore in Latvia many business provide free English study courses for their valuable employees. You can find a lot of English speaking persons but besides speaking English they usually don't have necessary skills. It may be much easier to teach some English necessary for their professional duties than to train a new person in specific profession. I refer to doctors, police, accountants.

    I understand that many US states provide free ESL courses for immigrants. And yet in some places the local MacDonald's needs to hire bilingual service staff. I would argue that by not providing free Spanish study courses the state is discriminating against those potential local workers who would like to take those jobs but are unable due to lack of Spanish language skills.
     

    Thomsen

    Senior Member
    English USA
    I definitely didn't learn that little English I know at school, even though we had English from the 4th grade.

    You clearly know much more than a little English:warn:

    In Latvia many business provide free English study courses for their valuable employees. You can find a lot of English speaking persons but besides speaking English they usually don't have necessary skills. It may be much easier to teach some English necessary for their professional duties than to train a new person in specific profession. I refer to doctors, police, accountants.

    I'm sure there are plenty of businesses which train their employees. That is after hiring though, isn't it? Some will pay for you to get a degree even. And if you have a pool of applicants that already have the language and the job skills without the additional expense....

    Put it another way. If I spoke Haitian Creole would it be against my rights to wish to hire someone who also spoke that and could use it on the job? What if I did web design, am I allowed to ask for someone with experience in web design already?

    I understand that many US states provide free ESL courses for immigrants. And yet in some places the local MacDonald's needs to hire bilingual service staff. I would argue that by not providing free Spanish study courses the state is discriminating against those potential local workers who would like to take those jobs but are unable due to lack of Spanish language skills.

    Let's be honest. Few people are really fighting for jobs at MacDonalds. You can get twice as much an hour working at Starbucks only speaking English. These people are not being discriminated against, they were undereducated.

    People should not be given an education that provides them with no practical skills, but that is a whole seperate thread.
     

    CiegoEnamorado

    Member
    America and American English
    I agree with anyone and everyone who commented here that any individual who comes to live here from another country should learn English, much like we would learn the language of another country, if we were to move there. I was on vacation in Japan a few weeks ago, more specifically, in Tokyo. They definitely cater to English-speaking tourists far more than any other, and the sad thing is that a number of English-speaking tourists didn't even care to learn any Japanese, even just to greet, thank, etc, the Japanese in the shops with whom they interacted or who worked in their hotels, etc. I'm glad I'm studying Japanese, because I used it as much as I could (I would like to be fluent in it some day, after all) and they truly appreciated the fact that I would make an effort to communicate. Granted, I was treated as a foreigner still, but they were more welcoming and warm after the fact.

    I have no issues with anyone wanting to come live here from outside of the country, but I would like to see more of them make an effort to learn some English. :)
     

    Bridgita

    Banned
    Inglés-USA
    I agree with anyone and everyone who commented here that any individual who comes to live here from another country should learn English, much like we would learn the language of another country

    I have no issues with anyone wanting to come live here from outside of the country, but I would like to see more of them make an effort to learn some English. :)


    I couldn't have said these better myself!! I completely agree!!
     

    mytwolangs

    Senior Member
    English United States
    In America, "bilingual" means someone who speaks Spanish and English.
    If a job requires such, than it does.
    So what is the problem?
     

    Athaulf

    Senior Member
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    Public schooling is rarely adequate. If that was working 90% of Latvian graduates would be speaking English. In real life maybe only 20% can really communicate or read in English and that only because they have received some outside help themselves (maybe watching MTV all the time). I definitely didn't learn that little English I know at school, even though we had English from the 4th grade.

    The same is true for the public schooling in most other places. I've also had English in school, and yet my English is mostly a product of computer games, British sitcoms, heavy metal, and more recently web surfing, all this only somewhat polished by a few years of living in Canada. :D

    But if a subsidy through public schooling is insufficient to make people learn a language, why would any other sort of subsidy be more successful? Adults certainly aren't more receptive to language learning than kids, and no method of language learning can be successful if it's not combined with a lot of extracurricular practice undertaken with some enthusiasm, be it MTV or something else.

    I understand that many US states provide free ESL courses for immigrants. And yet in some places the local MacDonald's needs to hire bilingual service staff. I would argue that by not providing free Spanish study courses the state is discriminating against those potential local workers who would like to take those jobs but are unable due to lack of Spanish language skills.
    I'm not sure I'm following your reasoning here. If I correctly understand what you wrote, the (supposed) discrimination is due to the fact that Hispanic immigrants are subsidized to learn English, which gives them an unfair advantage in the market for bilingual labor compared to the domestic English-speaking people, who are not subsidized to learn Spanish.

    But there are at least two good answers to this. First, the domestic people had (or still have) an opportunity for subsidized language learning in school; it's their fault if they've neglected to take advantage of it. Second, learning a language is certainly not so expensive that one couldn't do it without a subsidy, even poor people. I was able to easily afford language courses while living on poverty-level graduate student wages here in Canada. They cost me less than the booze during the same period. :D
     

    karuna

    Senior Member
    Latvian, Latvia
    That true but poor people are usually not very active with their education. If I was able to go to school to study languages in the USA I don't think I would choose Spanish, instead of would take Japanese or French. Why? Because knowing Spanish would get you only job at MacDonald's near minimum wage. Spanish is probably very widespread in the US that it is not valued much. However knowing Japanese or French would be much more impressive and opened posibilities to work in some international company or travel.

    The situation in Latvia is similar. English has replaced Russian as a second language studied at school. New Latvian generation do not speak Russian anymore. As a result many businesses cannot find enough bilingual workers for service sector and they complain, "Why are you leaving out Russian at school? Knowledge of Russian will give you so many career posibilities." It is complete hypocrisy because in most cases the only career the Russian language will give you in Latvia, is low paid shop attendent's job. Of course, speaking Russian gives you more than that but economically speaking it has low value in Latvia. Speaking English or German as a second language will guarantee much higher salary.
     

    francophone

    Senior Member
    Egypt
    I feel more qualified for jobs when i graduate because i can push myself into speaking, reading and writing 4 different languages, wether i'm fluent or not, languages make a big difference in my country regarding job opportunities. I think the job must be specific when it comes to which language is needed beside english.

    I don't get how can that be labeled "descrimination"??
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    The original questions in this thread were along the lines of--

    1) Are the ads stating a requirement for bilingualism discrimination?
    2) What would you tell the letter writer?

    This has evoked the usual series of statements about immigrants, on the supposition that bilingualism is
    needed only to have job-related dealings with immigrants. It has evoked questions about public policy regarding payment for language instruction.

    To try to return to the topic...

    There is no discrimination involved in stating a requirement for a job skill, including the ability to speak a language.

    I would tell the letter writer that, and suggest that if the bilingual jobs seem more attractive, better paid or in any way superior to the job she has, that she invest her time and energy in becoming bilingual. She would be welcome to keep her anti-immigrant views and write letters to the local paper.
     

    Flaminius

    hedomodo
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    Assuming that the letter to the editors is a diatribe against certain parts of middle-class job market preferring "bilingual speakers" and farther assuming that those "bilinguals" who get hired are as a fact foreign nationals, the validity of the claim consists in the duty of the government to secure jobs for the citizens. This duty, when applied to a market where locals compete with foreigners, implies that jobs or at least better ones should be reserved for the locals. The writer of the letter is in fact demanding favourable treatment for the predominantly monolingual citizens (including himself), which one may freely interpret this as an extortion or an inalienable right.

    The advert is not discrimination but an undoing of a perquisite that has been hitherto taken for granted.
     

    TRG

    Senior Member
    english USA
    I found this letter in a local paper in a small town in Texas

    "Some months ago, I went to work for a company in xxx. Thank goodness my employer does not discriminate. Prior to finding this job, I read the classifieds faithfully and found many jobs that I felt I more than qualified for except for the "must be bilingual." What's up with that? I live in America where I was born and raised to speak English. I wonder if I spoke German if that would be enough. I don't think so. Why don't they come out and say which language you must speak.
    I think we all know. If people can't speak English, they should go home or at least be expected to learn it. Why should we accommodate them. Where is the discrimination here?"

    What would you say, is it descrimination? What would you tell this person?

    I would say to them, "Stop being a xenophobic crank and accept the fact that we have millions of Spanish speaking people in the US and absolutely everyone takes the term bilingual to mean Spanish and English speaking."
    This is one of the issues that the anti-immigrant crowd seizes upon to strike fear into the hearts of the weak minded. Your culture is being subverted by foreigners. Run for your lives.:eek:
     

    ILT

    Senior Member
    México - Español/Castellano
    Well, Texas shares a very big border with Mexico. Who is to say that the employeer asking for this "English/Spanish bilingual employee" is not doing it because he wants to do business with all those Mexicans who cross the border to do business or shopping? Is there anything wrong with going to another country to spend money? The employer is doing what he needs to get those customers; I think that the most important premise of doing business is being overlooked: money talks. If the customer with the money speaks Swahili, you can be sure the employer will want someone who speaks it ;)
    I still can't see the discrimination in this job opening. What I see is a big discussion based on assumptions :D
     

    Athaulf

    Senior Member
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    There is no discrimination involved in stating a requirement for a job skill, including the ability to speak a language.

    The problem is that the word "discrimination" has joined the increasingly large class of English words that have been so badly and intensively abused in political debates that they are now in practice devoid of any precise and coherent meaning except vague connotations of sheer evil. (Much like e.g. "terrorism.")

    Accordingly, this word is nowadays often thrown around as a random, emotionally charged insult whenever someone feels hurt or treated unfairly, no matter what the reason. The Texan whose letter sparked this discussion is merely following this widespread trend. And this trend is by no means limited to the debates about political issues. Several months ago, I talked to a person who told me how her landlord recently rebuked her for being late with the rent. The landlord also told her on that occasion something along the lines of "you shouldn't live here if you can't afford it." Guess what: her next sentence was that such a statement must surely be illegal because it amounts to -- I quote her words -- "blatant discrimination."
     

    danielfranco

    Senior Member
    I think it is "discrimination" in the sense that it favors a certain type of applicant by prefering a seemingly unrelated job skill unfairly.
    All things being equal - perhaps the letter writer believes this - the letter writer would have nailed that job in a flash. But, unfairly, the employer chooses applicants on such pedestrian skills as the ability to communicate in a foreign tongue.

    How dare he!

    I believe that businesses don't often hire people with esoteric skills in the hope that maybe one day there'll be a need and then the employee will show his worth by saving the day with his outlander vocabulary. Rather, I suppose that businesses hire esoteric skills to cover a current need.

    I guess this letter writer would have felt slighted no matter what, every time he/she did not get the job. Next letter, s/he would be ranting about the stupidity of asking for a related college degree as a requirement, or the untenable affront of people asking for two or three years experience minimum, or any of those unsufferable hurdles employers like to throw at you for no apparent reason.

    [All this: :rolleyes: ]

    What would I say to this person? "Welcome back, Senator McCarthy."
     

    panjabigator

    Senior Member
    Am. English
    Definitely not discrimination. The job requires a certain skill. It's not like the job requires people to be of a certain race or gender. That would be discrimination. My advice to that person applying for the job is to suck it up and get with the times.

    And while I am it, I reserve the right to not learn the language of wherever I go. No one should force it on me. But then I shouldn't expect to be served in my native tongue either (unless I live in the community).
     

    Lombard Beige

    Senior Member
    English, Italy
    As someone aptly pointed out earlier. Texas used not to be "our country" but rather a province of Mexico ...

    I raised this point with two ideas in mind:


    1) Texas was once part of Mexico and ceased to be part of Mexico because a group of immigrants came to Texas and refused among other things to learn Spanish, to follow the Catholic religion, and not to hold slaves, after having sworn that they would do so. Instead, they organized a rebellion against the unjust rule of the Centralist party in Mexico. They won and later joined the USA, which according to the Mexican interpretation, was their original intention. This led to a new war in which Mexico lost its provinces of Alta California, Arizona and Nuevo México. The war was concluded with a treaty (Guadalupe-Hidalgo) in which the USA undertook to guarantee certain rights of ex-Mexican citizens. For the most part, these rights were disregarded (cf. the question of land rights in New Mexico). So the whole question is marred by two cases of “lack of good faith” on the part of the Anglos, i.e. to justify their actions they appealed against Mexican injustice, but when it came to keeping their side of the bargain the ex-Mexican citizens became “foreigners”. Another part of the story that makes interesting reading is the fate of the “Californios”, i.e. the Spanish speaking population of ex-Mexican Alta California. A lot of these, e.g. Gen. Vallejo, were pro US, because of the defects of the Mexican Centralists, but after everything was over, many of them lost everything and had to migrate to Baja California.


    2) This is a border area and, as a European, I think of the better examples that Europe can offer (because, of course, Europe with its long history can also offer worse examples). Without going as far as Belgium, where German is the third national language, as it is spoken in Eupen and Malmédy, which became Belgian to compensate for the damage suffered by Belgium in World War I, I can mention the case of Italy. In the Province of Bolzano-Bozen, which was Austrian until World War I, both Italian and German are official languages. Knowledge of German is compulsory for certain jobs. This solution, which is morally laudible, just, etc., was in fact forced upon Italy by the Allies (meaning substantially the USA). So the USA forces upon others solutions that it does not accept itself?


    To conclude, I think the problem in border states, particularly in the areas that were once Mexico is different from the situation in, for example, Chicago or in New Jersy. Similarly, in Belgium and Italy, nobody in Liège or in Trento is expected to speak German, although if they do, they probably have an advantage in the job market over someone who doesn't.


    regards
     
    Definitely not discrimination. The job requires a certain skill. It's not like the job requires people to be of a certain race or gender. That would be discrimination. My advice to that person applying for the job is to suck it up and get with the times.

    And while I am it, I reserve the right to not learn the language of wherever I go. No one should force it on me. But then I should expect to be served in my native tongue either (unless I live in the community).
    I agree with pangabigator, it isn't discrimination, down here many companies, require two be bilingual (Español/Inglés), some even (Español/Japonés) for many positions.
     

    roxcyn

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English [AmE]
    I found this letter in a local paper in a small town in Texas

    "Some months ago, I went to work for a company in xxx. Thank goodness my employer does not discriminate. Prior to finding this job, I read the classifieds faithfully and found many jobs that I felt I more than qualified for except for the "must be bilingual." What's up with that? I live in America where I was born and raised to speak English. I wonder if I spoke German if that would be enough. I don't think so. Why don't they come out and say which language you must speak.
    I think we all know. If people can't speak English, they should go home or at least be expected to learn it. Why should we accommodate them. Where is the discrimination here?"

    What would you say, is it discrimination? What would you tell this person?

    A) No, it is not discrimination because the jobs need people that can speak English and another language. If she wants to learn another language she could easily take classes at a community college, pay for a private tutor, buy some books, and/or go to the library for books.

    B) Hello, while I understand your frustration. If these jobs require someone to know another language then you should call the job to find more information. If you are not sure which language, or if any language would do, then you need to contact them to ask if you can still apply without knowing another language. Perhaps the company will not find a qualified candidate. Seeing that I know people who are trying to learn English, I would think that you may want to try to learn another language. Sometimes it is not so easy to "just learn another language". It takes time, it takes practice.
     
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