I feel like I am being attacked here. And before I go on any further, I’d like to make it very clear that my belief does not apply only to the Spanish speaking community. Yes, the title of the thread is called “Spanish in the kitchen,” but it has more to do with my belief against condemning those that don’t speak a foreigners’ language. And “Spanish in the kitchen” was picked as an example. I did mention that “if I were to learn a foreign language, I’d be taking up French, Japanese, or Italian.” And the exact same belief applies here. Even if I were to pick up any of the foreign languages of my choice, there is no way I’d tolerate a company (unless the specific position calls for it) requiring employees to have mastery of that language because of the fact that the other staff members aren’t willing to learn the native language.
My statements have nothing to do with racism (as Recky said). It is about my belief that when a person moves to a foreign country, they should at least try to make an effort to adapt (without losing the sense of identity of where they come from). And learning the native language is one of the first steps in adapting. Of course, they don’t have to. It is their choice. But when they make that choice not to make an effort, and they go out to work (where not everyone speaks their language), what is to become of the language barrier? Does every company “learn the immigrants’ language” so “the world works better that way”?
I have friends from Korea (that have not been in the country very long..and some that have been here for a long time) that have expressed their reluctance to learn English. They have made comments such as, (translated from Korean to English) “I feel no need to learn English. I work at a Korean company, deal with Korean speakers all day, have Korean speaking friends, and attend a Korean church. I don’t NEED to learn English.” My belief applies to them too. They are Korean just like me. But I don’t agree with their unwillingness to make an effort to adapt. I don’t work with them. But if I did and I did not speak Korean (HYPTHETICALLY speaking…I DO speak it btw) and I were to work at a place where the majority of the staff members were Korean, I would not accept the company’s policy of expecting me to learn Korean just to accommodate the Koreans that don’t speak English. I mean, if the position at the company required fluency in Korean (ex: translator, dealing with overseas matters with Koreans in Korea, Korean language teacher, etc.), then surely, there is no question about it that fluency in Korean would be required. But while living in America, the company should not expect anyone to learn Korean just because the other employees don’t speak English.
Mano, I am not making assumptions and I don’t think I am off in interpreting your statements. My response to your previous comment(s) was, “Since natives are learning the languages of immigrants, does that mean the natives are going to learn every immigrant language there is? Going to pick up Vietnamese, German, Italian, and yada yada since “the world works better that way”? I don’t see how it’s fair to apply your concept solely to Spanish speakers. The USA is a melting pot, home to people from all over the world. If we spent our time learning the immigrant language of every country, then really “nothing else” would get done. It might be fun, and an asset to learn a new language. But why should there be any favoritism towards the Spanish language?”
In your response, you mentioned, “In the context of working in a professional kitchen, where many of the employees speak a different language that someone else is capable of learning, it makes sense to learn that language as best one can.” I understand that “many of the employees” is referring to the Spanish speakers since “in the context of working in a professional kitchen,” most of immigrants do come from Spanish speaking countries.
When I expressed my belief that when foreigners move to another country, that it’s their responsibility (I’ll rephrase “job” with “responsibility”), your reply was, “ If that logic was applied in the rest of the restaurant everyone would do "their job" and nothing else. Native's learn the language of immigrants because the world works better that way.” So if immigrants (in this case Spanish speakers “in the context of working in a professional kitchen”), aren’t learning English since the natives are to “learn the language of immigrants” since “the world works better that way, you are suggesting that natives be the ones to take classes, listen to the tutorials tapes, whatever it takes just to learn the language in order to communicate with the Spanish speakers, at their (Spanish speakers’) convenience since “natives learn the language of immigrants because the world works better that way”? In none of your comments do I see an implementation of encouraging Spanish speakers (“in the context of working in a professional kitchen”) to learn English since the natives are learning the language of immigrants to make the world a better place.
Cheflayne, props to your wife. ER nurses are life savers. But how can you compare life or death emergency situations (where every minute, every second is crucial) to one’s reluctance to learn a language when they’ve had years, decades (seen people that have lived here 20-30 years and not know the language) to learn. My aunt speaks fluent English, but when she was rushed to the ER, the nurses had questions translated in Korean. They stated that even when patients speak English fluently, when they are in a vulnerable life threatening panic situation, sometimes, they feel more comfortable speaking in their mother tongue.
And yes, no one is forcing foreigners to learn the country's native language. BUT them not speaking the native language puts the responsibility on the native speakers to learn their language. If one side does not learn the others’ language, the language barriers can present problems. It leads to the question of who learns whose language. And I still strongly believe that responsibility should not lie on the natives to learn a foreigners’ language, especially when some foreigners are reluctant to even bother.