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Spanish + Algebra: An Easy Way To Learn Both Of Them

I could hardly believe my ears. A candidate running for president actually said in a recent debate that English is the official language of the United States. And not one of his opponents or the moderator or the press the next day noticed his gaffe! I am reminded of the old saying, “No one is as blind as the man who will not see.” And what is that about not being able to see the forest for the trees?

The United States has never had an official language, and hopefully never will. We must remain open to all who come to our shores. Look at all the people sticking their heads in the sand, led by supposedly educated individuals leading the mob in demanding that others learn English, or suffer the consequences

Meanwhile, go into any hardware store, the place people go to do the building and the fixing and the assembling that absolutely just has to be done, and all the signs are in Spanish and English. Instead of looking at Spanish-speakers as a liability, see them for what they are, a Godsend! Almost everyone on earth, except Americans, speak two, three or more languages. Take a little baby step – speak the few words of Spanish you already know, and watch their eyes light up;  and listen to them, and thus learn more. Welcome these newcomers like the ancestors of so many of us who were immigrants were welcomed.

All school systems should be encouraged to mandate the learning of Spanish as a second language. Don’t drop French, Italian, etc.. but make them third languages after Spanish is mastered. No, we cannot mandate this, but we should encourage it. If we did so, the Spanish-speaking students, instead of being marginalized, would be prized, and as we thereby brought them into the mainstream, they would help broaden our horizons and improve our children’s school performance.

Math instruction is another door shut tight, that must be opened wide. Very often Asian students are proficient in math, not necessarily because of any propensity for it, but because it is not heavily dependent on language of any kind, and many of them are not proficient in the English language. It is a common fallacy to believe that a person is intrinsically better in mathematical or verbal subjects. Logic is logic whether mathematical or verbal. The special problem with math is that each math course is built on the one prior, so once you do poorly in one math class, you cannot understand the next one in the math sequence.We need to, all of us, whether we are students or not, turn to websites like Khanacademy.orgthat meticulously, and very easily explain everything step-by-step, from simple addition to advanced calculus, in a plethora of easy going videos.

I am certain that if we were to initiate a national program – like the one that put men on the moon – to learn Spanish and Algebra, and if we turned to those students already in our midst who are proficient in either to help us, we will achieve smashing success. And in the process, further assimilate our Asian and Latino fellow men, women and children. But as in all things, we cannot wait for our “leaders,” we, the people, must show them the way. Si?

(by Dr. Arthur Lewin,  author of Read Like Your Life Depends On It, www.readlikeyourlifedependsonit.com )

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