Sample Essay

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In addition the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo with Mexico at the end of the Mexican-American war in 1848, forced a defeated Mexico to yield large areas to the US government, these areas, all settled by people who primarily spoke Spanish included the states of Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas along with parts of present day states of Colorado, Nevada and Utah.

However despite the presence of this large Spanish-speaking population in the United States, the Spanish language has been discriminated against and the English language has been imposed on the Hispanic community throughout the history of the country. Often this discrimination against Spanish is outright and expressed in the form of anti-Spanish legislation banning the teaching of Spanish in schools (Takaki 1993).

In 1855, the State of California passed legislation that banned public and private schools from carrying out their instruction in any language other than English. As recently as 1998 the people of California, passed the proposition 227 removing bi-lingual education from schools and requiring instruction in public schools to be in English only. A similar piece of legislation was passed by the people of Arizona in 2000 through the proposition 203 which put an end to bilingual education (Gonzalez 2001).

The degree of government hostility against the Spanish language can be seen from the 1911 report of the Immigration Commission of the US Congress which condemns Mexican Americans for speaking their own language in extremely racist terms:

“The fact that only 5.3 per cent of the Mexicans read and write English is due to their consistent lack of ambition in matters of culture..The Mexican laborers, on the other hand, are notoriously indolent and unprogressive in all matters of education and culture, and evince little desire to learn to speak English” (U.S. Commission on Immigration 1911).

The report equated the speaking of English with the acquisition of education and culture.

A state of hostility and fear persisted against Spanish language and the languages of minorities in general. The early twentieth century was a time of mass immigration and the government of the time feared that if newly arrived immigrants retained their language and culture it would pose a serious threat to the national identity and unity of the country.

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