Is English Only Legislation Even Relevant To TEFL?

“English Only” legislation in the US certainly gets my attention – but why is it relevant to EFL teachers?

  • English language is the focus of our work. We, frankly unlike the vast majority of Americans (and I would say the vast majority of English-speakers as well), see every day the trouble people go to to learn our language. We see them struggle, pay huge amounts of money, and grow frustrated when they realize how much work and time progress takes. We see that it takes time to really learn a language.
  • The lack of local language prowess that characterizes EFL teachers is, in my view, great proof that the existence of an official language by no means ensures that everyone living there speaks it. Most countries in the world do have official language, and many if not most EFL teachers do not speak the language well.

    It surprises me that EFL teachers do not seem to relate more to non-English speaking immigrants, or if they do, they do not feel the need to be vocal about it. Are there differences? Sure – EFL teachers tend not to be refugees or true economic immigrants; they tend to have a normal amount of free time and very often some disposable income…and still there is this lack of language ability.
  • English teachers are in a position to see how the English language is by no means threatened.

I don’t take issue with official languages in other countries; first, I make a distinction between having traditionally had an official language and declaring one in the midst of a political atmosphere which is continually distancing the US even further from the rest of the world. I also realize that this is an issue relating to my own country, and just as I wouldn’t readily comment on such a situation in another country, EFL teachers not from the US (who probably in fact make up the bulk of EFL teachers, and perhaps my readers) may feel the same way.

However you look at it – I think this current trend is a relevant one for EFL teachers.