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Chester County Press

Uncle Irvin: Bilingualism is a two-way street

04/01/2015 12:36PM ● By Richard Gaw
Recently, a meeting was held in Kennett Square by police and community leaders on the subject of "Building Bridges in the Community."

The meeting quickly turned to the problem of communicating with the region's large Spanish-speaking population. The discussion dealt with the problem that very few police can speak Spanish.

According to Police Chief Gerald Simpson of New Garden Township and Captain William White, commanding officer of the State Police Avondale Barracks, police and state troopers are having a difficult time recruiting troopers, let alone finding recruits who speak Spanish.

Many English-speaking Americans find residences in foreign countries, as well as travel overseas for their jobs. These Americans soon learn that it is a necessity to learn to speak the native tongue. Many take lessons and they work hard to pick up the nuances of the language.

These countries -- many which are Spanish speaking -- force foreigners to learn their language or drown, and every American knows this, so they force themselves to learn the language of the country.

While it is preferable for more police to speak Spanish, it would be even more preferable for Spanish-speaking immigrants to learn English. Speaking English would open up completely new horizons and job opportunities for single-language-only Latinos, and open the doors wide for eventual citizenship. There are English-speaking classes available here for immigrants, but too few Latinos take learning English seriously.