Virtually unrestrained immigration has left the city of New York with a massive problem: people can’t talk to each other.
Tragically, this includes teachers trying to communicate with parents. From The New York Daily News:
New Yorkers, who come from every corner of the world, speak 180 languages. Not surprisingly, nearly half of public school students speak a language other than English at home.
This makes life difficult for the city's Department of Education, which, according to federal law and its own regulations, must provide translation and interpretation services to the thousands of parents of those children whose first language is not English. It is not an easy task.
“We release this report with hopes that the DOE will take immediate action to address the serious language access barriers parents face when trying to engage in their children's school lives. Currently, the DOE has only two people who are responsible for monitoring and supporting more than 1,700 schools on translation and interpretation," said Steven Choi, the coalition’s executive director.
Lack of translation and interpretation closes the doors for immigrant parents who would like to be engaged in their children’s education.
Munni Akther, a Bangladesh native, came to New York 14 months ago. Her two daughters, 5 and 9, attend public schools in the Bronx.
“The elementary school provides translation, but the Pre-K does not,” she said. “When I go to parents’ conferences, I never get answers to my questions because they don’t understand my broken English. I feel bad because I want to be involved 100% in my kids' education and I can’t.”
The solution would seem fairly straightforward: require English fluency and literacy as a condition for immigration. It seems only a matter of common sense that newcomers to our shores should be expected to learn our language rather than we being expected to learn theirs.
I have many friends who are missionaries in foreign lands, including many among tribal peoples. All of them understood that, if they were to be effective, it was incumbent upon them to learn the language of the people to whom they were going. It would have never even occurred to them to insist that the people to whom they were going be required to learn English first.
One of the forms God’s judgment takes is a confusion of languages. According to Genesis 11, when a monolingual people became consumed with pride and arrogance, and intended to “make a name for (themselves)” by “building a tower with its top in the heavens,” God intervened by making it impossible for them to communicate with each other.
This was to serve as a check on the evil they otherwise would be disposed to do. Said the Triune God, “Nothing (of the evil) they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech” (Genesis 11:6, 7).
Their ability to collaborate together for evil purposes was broken by a babble of languages, and they soon scattered. Their plans, because they were not aligned with God’s, came to nought.
The lesson here may be that, when a nation turns from the humble worship of the true and living God to hubristic self-reliance, God may judge that nation by making linguistic communication impossible.
Bottom line: God may not need to judge America by confusing our language. We’re doing a pretty good job of that all by ourselves. Or perhaps, this is the way a sovereign God is bringing his judgment on a land that has turned its back on him.