Thursday, October 02, 2008

43% in state speak other than English at home

Here is another story showing how we need more opportunities for immigrants to learn English. DP

By Tyche Hendricks, Chronicle Staff Writer San Francisco resident Carlos Dimaano, 50, a recent immigrant from the Philippines, speaks English in his job at a community center. But when he goes home to cook dinner for his 88-year-old father, the two lapse into their native Tagalog.

The men are among the almost 43 percent of Californians who speak a language other than English at home, a proportion far higher than in any other state in the country, according to census figures released today. Speaking another language at home doesn't mean they don't also speak English in the home.

But Dimaano, who immigrated just a year ago, is also among the 1 in 5 Californians who feel they don't speak English "very well."

By contrast, fewer than 20 percent of U.S. residents overall speak another language at home, and fewer than 9 percent classify themselves as limited English speakers, the Census Bureau said.

The Bay Area, with its large number of immigrants, has about the same proportion of limited English speakers as the state overall, the census figures show. For some experts, that is cause for concern. For others, it is a source of regional strength.

"It's very disturbing when 1 in 5 people is not communicating in the common language," said Victor Davis Hanson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. "Culturally, it creates a sort of tribalism. This country doesn't have a predominant race or religion; it just has values. That's a very thin bond. We have shared values and a shared Constitution; we also have to have a shared culture and language."
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

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