To the editor:
“Tagalog is WA’s most commonly spoken foreign language after Spanish,” [an article that appeared in the July 15 issue of Northwest Asian Weekly,] is well-developed and written. My educator hat is reeling, however, with the combination of “foreign” and “language” in the headline and throughout the article.
At least 30 years ago, there were significant differences among language teachers about languages other than English taught in schools. They settled on “world languages” because the language other than English that is worthy of teaching in schools is usually a language that is used by people living in more than one political jurisdiction: French in Quebec, German in Wisconsin, Spanish throughout the Southwest, indigenous peoples. Although [some of these] may not be the languages of the government in power, powerful governments often declare or impose a state language.
I am surprised that Tagalog is the second language behind Spanish in Washington now (and that’s important information), but I wish you’d referred to it as a world language.
Clearly, Tagalog is spoken in this country among several generations, some of whom are Americans by birth. That wasn’t an option for me when I was growing up post-World War II. English only at home.[The fact] that an individual speaks a language other than English these days in the United States helps them to be a citizen of the world.
Thanks for ‘listening.’ I just think it would be a stronger article if, every time you used [the word] “foreign,” you’d used [the word] “world” instead!
— Kathy Purcell, Seattle