Thursday, May 10, 2012

Puerto Rico: Governor Endeavors To Render Island Bi-Lingual

According to the Associated Press, Republican Governor Luis Luis Fortuño is hoping to influence what 100 years of US citizenship has failed to accomplish: Make Puerto Rico fully bi-lingual. Hence, Fortuño's plan is to require all public schools to teach all courses in English instead of Spanish.

Unfortunately, many Puerto Ricans believe that Fortuño's plan would bring Puerto Rico much closer to becoming the 51st state, a measure which only half of the population has backed in recent polls. Additionally, many families believe that teaching English in all classes would have a detrimental effect on the territory's Latin heritage.

COMMENT: Only twelve of the island's 1,472 schools offer an all-English curriculum of the sort envisioned by Fortuño, while 35 other schools offer some courses in English, such as math and physical education. Under the governor's plan, schools would continue to offer Spanish grammar and literature classes.

According to a 2006 European Community study, 56% of Europeans say they can hold a conversation in more than one language. About 90% in the Netherlands and Germany say they can do so. Sadly, only 25% of mainland Americans can converse in a second language.

Despite best intentions, a major inhibitor to instituting Fortuño's plan is a dire lack of good English teachers in Puerto Rico. 

As a matter of interest, English speakers who travel to Puerto Rico either for business or tourism will quickly find that there is a reluctance on the part of the majority of Puerto Ricans to speak English, whereas elsewhere in the Caribbean, English is emphasized as a critical component of a robust government policy to promote tourism.