Monday, March 24, 2008

English On The Job

Story here.
I can understand the confusion of the woman who was required to speak English on the job. I mean, where else in our society do we currently support these goals? We have schools all in Spanish, we have TV, radio and newspapers all in Spanish. There are grocery stores where you can't even be hired to work unless you are fluent in Spanish. Even the DISD removed experienced teachers and replaced them with less experienced, but Spanish speaking, instructors. But here's the bottom line-when you are working at a job that requires technical know-how, you must be able to efficiently communicate problems. And you can't do that if you don't speak the language. Now telling the employee not to say "hola" is coming down a bit hard, and I would like to know if that in fact happened or was made up. But the issue is that we cannot continue to function in any aspect of this country if we cannot communicate. You wouldn't want a nurse in surgery or an EMT at a fire to be unable to convey what was happening. And in a technical or assembly situation, there could be safety issues or construction issues that would make serious errors or cause accidents. Lack of communication is no laughing matter in the workplace because failure to tell supervisors of dangerous situations leads to accidents. How many gas lines have been cut simply because the signs were placed to communicate the danger or the heavy equipement operator could not or did not read the warnings? So I am sure there will be the usual hoopla from the usual suspects shouting racism and claiming injury, but in the end, at the workplace if English is what is used in the operation of the business, then that's the rules and you abide by them.

PS. I still think if all the English language networks have to provide SAP captioning, that Univision and others should offer English language captioning. Who knows, maybe all of us would learn another language that way


Darren said...

1. I say "hola" all the time.

2. I would *love* to know what they're saying on Sabado Gigante. I could *so* be a host of an English language version of that show :-)

Ellen K said...

I would agree that if she was simply greeting someone and was reprimanded for that, it's simple racism. But I have it from someone who works there that the problems was that some of the Spanish speakers on the assembly line were gossiping about other workers in front of them. When someone who knew Spanish ratted them out, the lady claimed it was prejudice. I don't care what language people use in their private lives, but in a construction or assembly situation, language matters and accidents occur when people fail to communicate clearly. As for the TV network thing, I am really puzzled by some of the sitcoms and soaps on Univision and I would really enjoy knowing the story line. Plus, since they don't have the non-stop reality show programming of the Big Three-they actually show some pretty good movies, which I would completely enjoy watching even with subtitles. Hey, this could get a bigger audience AND get people to read and perhaps learn something of another language. It looks like a win-win to me.

Ellen K said...

Here's the problem, if we aren't speaking the same language on the job, there could be misunderstandings that could cause dangerous implication. Witness the arrest today in Dallas of 49 illegal immigrants, the majority from Mexico, that were hired as armed security guards for restaurants and clubs. What if someone says something or does something and the guard shoots them? He either goes to jail where the consulate bails him out and moves him home, or he hides and either way, someone is dead because of a lack of clarity and understanding. Is that the fault of the person who was born here, or the person who is hired to be an armed guard without knowing the primary language?