Back in the spring, we held a public forum, attended by about 200 members of the university community as well as our broader island community, on the question of “English Only?” at UOG, which is in an apparently quite long process of revising its general education curriculum. (This has been going on since before I arrived over three years ago.) There was overwhelming support (185 out of 186 respondents) to retaining languages.
This is (still) a real question at UOG! It is (still) really up for debate!
As I am working with a small group to build support for retaining the modern language requirement (we apparently do not offer Greek, Latin . . . ), I am attempting to seek out every applicable area of public policy or academic tradition in order to make our argument.
The 1990 public law below caught my eye as it mentions the territories in specific contexts. I find it quite obvious from reading through it that U.S. stated policy would not support removing the indigenous languages of the peoples of Guam and FAS in Micronesia from our flagship regional university.
Why? Why is this even a question? This is such a terribly “English Only” approach.
I myself studied a variety of languages other than English when being homeschooled by my mother and later in public and private schools. We started on three years of German through a special program for children of German descent when I was about five or six. I also studied Spanish in high school, Latin from my mother, Hungarian very informally on a summer trip, and French in college. My college French was sufficient about five years later to pass the written grad-school language exams with no problem. Now, of course, I have the honor of studying Fino’ CHamoru in the Marianas themselves. Language has formed me at every step of the way.
Yes, language was a requirement for my B.A., and for my Ph.D. Second-language learning is a profound liberal arts tradition, and it is a disgrace to suggest cutting it, even from a purely academic perspective that did not take into account the resonance of Chamorro culture and language on this ancestral land.
The casual willingness for the removal of Chamorro language is a sign of enduring colonialism.
SEC. 104. It is the policy of the United States to—
(1) preserve, protect, and promote the rights and freedom of Native Americans to use, practice, and develop Native American languages; (2) allow exceptions to teacher certification requirements for Federal programs, and programs funded in whole or in part by the Federal Government, for instruction in Native American languages when such teacher certification requirements hinder the employment of qualified teachers who teach in Native American languages, and to encourage State and territorial governments to make similar exceptions; (3) encourage and support the use of Native American languages as a medium of instruction in order to encourage and support— (A) Native American language survival, (B) educational opportunity, (C) increased student success and performance, (D) increased student awareness and knowledge of their culture and history, and (E) increased student and community pride; (4) encourage State and local education programs to work with Native American parents, educator, Indian tribes, and other Native American governing bodies in the implementation of programs to put this policy into effect; (5) recognize the right of Indian tribes and other Native American governing bodies to use the Native American languages as a medium of instruction in all schools funded by the Secretary of the Interior; (6) fully recognize the inherent right of Indian tribes and other Native American governing bodies, States, territories, and possessions of the United States to take action on, and give official status to, their Native American languages for the purpose of conducting their own business; (7) support the granting of comparable proficiency achieved through course work in a Native American language the same academic credit as comparable proficiency achieved through course work in a foreign language, with recognition of such Native American language proficiency by institutions of higher education as fulfilling foreign language entrance or degree requirements; and (8) encourage all institutions of elementary, secondary and higher education, where appropriate, to include Native American languages in the curriculum in the same manner as foreign languages and to grant proficiency in Native American languages the same full academic credit as proficiency in foreign languages.— Native American Languages Act