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Gary Lin
Sani Chartudomdej
English 131
October 24, 2012

Chances are if somebody were to walk into any given classroom, on any given day, they
would be able to communicate with everybody in that room relatively well. Thats great; the
ability to communicate with others is a great achievement of a unified language. But as with
most things there is a hitch, a hidden problem. A key part of that sentence is relatively well. As
proven throughout history, being able to communicate effectively can create possibilities that
could never exist otherwise. Take for example the Roman Empire so many years ago; they were
the sole world power, the greatest and most magnificent nation in the world, and what language
did they all use? Latin. Those who were conquered were forced to learn it, soldiers were forced
to learn it, every single citizen of the Roman Empire, but with that common language, the
Romans thrived, grew exponentially, and were unbelievably prosperous. Relatively well just
wont cut it for effective communication. Extrapolating that to the present, having a central
standard language such as English can improve productivity as well as increase efficiency. The
only way for a university to be as prosperous and efficient as possible, a Standard English must
be used as evidenced by essays from Amy Tan and Mauro Mujica. If a university desires their
students to be successful and efficient, and in extension the university as a whole, then it is in the
best interest of the university that only standard English be used in the classroom.
First and foremost, standard English must be defined. But this is an incredibly
convoluted issue, and of which there is no definitive explanation of what standard English is.

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Standard English is so hard to define because of a huge underlying problem; how can someone
determine one persons English to be superior to anothers English if they are both
Englishes? Even if someone were to come out and say one particular strain of English is the one
true English, what is to say they are right? Are they not speaking the same language as a
person say, on the other side of the US? Standard English is something that will probably
never be decisively answered, because it cant, theres just no way. However, it is generally
acknowledged that standard English is one that is the most widely accepted, in grammar,
vocabulary, and spelling. It is this definition that can be used to create a standard English that
can be utilized to unify the classroom, streamline communication, and improve learning for all
students by allowing the sharing of ideas and knowledge as efficient as possible.
A policy needs to be implemented that mandates a central, Standard English in the
classroom. As was mentioned before, without a centralized language the Roman Empire may not
have been the great nation that it was. For example, take this hypothetical situation: a farmer
from the hills of Athens, Greece, is recruited into the Roman army, and sent off to fight the
Germanic tribes of the north. He speaks only Greek, while the Roman army speaks Latin
exclusively. Not understanding the orders being shouted by the Roman officers, the farmer is
forced to guess what the battle strategy is. However, this farmer guesses wrong, and is separated
from his battalion and surrounded by the barbarians of the northern tribes, never to be seen or
heard from again. Had this farmer been able to communicate and understand the instructions
being given, he may have lived to tell glorious war stories to his grandchildren, but alas, this was
not the case. Or perhaps a more modern example will work a little better. Take Kevin, who is a
foreign student that student that just immigrated to the US from Spain, but he knows only broken
English. He goes to classes every day and studies his book, but only to the extent of his English

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abilities. He understands only some of the lecture, doesnt understand many concepts, and
doesnt participate in group discussions because he is too behind. Kevin goes on to fail the class
which completely unravels his whole college career. Now, applying this to the classroom; if John
Doe walks into a classroom, he should be able to communicate effectively and with ease. When
John Doe can communicate without difficulty, he is able to learn the material to the best of his
abilities, and become a person that he can be proud of and go on to achieve his dreams. So unlike
the farmer in the story, because John Doe was able to communicate effortlessly with the teacher
and students, he was able to get a good education and further his learning. Rather than never
being seen nor heard from again like the farmer, or failing a class and perhaps ruining the rest of
his college years like Kevin, John Doe instead excelled throughout his classes instead of flunking
out of college had he not been able to communicate well in the classroom.
Amy Tan, a well-known author, writes about her mother in her essay Mother Tongue,
about her mother's tribulations due to her limited English. One of the difficulties that Tan's
mother faced was the inability to communicate effectively with her stock broker, which resulted
with the stock broker taking advantage of Tan's mother because she couldnt speak English well
and couldn't do anything about the situation. However, once Amy Tan called the stock broker, in
perfect English, she was immediately attended to and the situation was resolved. What happened
to Tan's mother wasn't the sole occurrence, as her mother was treated with less respect and
courtesy that was awarded anybody else that could speak standard English, everywhere she
went; restaurants, banks, department stores, even hospitals were all less than respectful of Tan's
mother just because she was wasnt fluent in English. Had Tan's mother been fluent in English,
there wouldn't have been a communication problem. The stock broker would have given her the
respect she deserved, as well as everyone else. Though the disrespect that is given to Amy Tans

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mother is unethical and wrong, it is not hard to see where it comes from. Some call it racism,
others call it xenophobia, but it is all the same because it is resentment towards people who are
not the same as they are. This is a problem that has affected me personally, as I am of Asian
descent, and can attest to the disrespect that is given to those who are different; and while this
resentment is wrong, it can definitely be rectified. By speaking fluent English to those people, it
shows that while you may be different in appearance, you are the same inside, and while still
wrong, some may see you differently. Tans mothers inability to speak English fluently also
affected Amy growing up; Amy recalls her childhood I think my mothers English almost had
an effect on limiting my possibilities in life as well. (Tan 713) So not only was Tans mothers
limited English detrimental to herself, but to Amy as well. Tans situation was just one of many
that had English been known, communication would have been highly efficient and prevented
many problems. Having faced one of these situations myself, I know the need for a Standard
English. Back in secondary school, there were numerous occasions that were very difficult for
me when my parents, who can only speak a limited amount of English, couldnt help me with my
homework, or help me study, or even read forms that needed to be signed. Thats why a
Standard English is needed in the classroom; if the university wants its students to succeed and
go on to contribute to society, a common form of communication is needed so the highest level
of learning can be achieved.
The argument for a policy of a Standard English is further strengthened by Mauro
Mujica, a Chilean immigrant, who writes about the need for a common English to unify the
people of the country; and applying this to the university, to unify the students together.
Unification is an important aspect that needs to be addressed by the university. But the only way
to do that is to have a centralized language. In his article, Mujica talks about the need for English

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to be declared the official language of the United States of America, in doing so, he says it can
unify the people in the country. Mujica argues that while English is already considered the
common language of the US, it is not enough to unify the people A common language allows
us a way to share the culture and background that makes our nation great because the US was
founded by immigrants, and immigration is what made it great, we need a common language to
share that greatness and be all that we can be. This is why the university needs to adopt a policy
that sets a standard language, it gives students a channel in which to express and share their ideas
and culture with others, as well as make the dissemination of information much more efficient.
Taking a quote from Former California Senator S.I. Hayakawa; The ability to forge unity from
diversity makes our society strong. We need all the elements, Germans, Hispanics, Hellenes,
Italians, Chinese, all the cultures that make our nation unique. Unless we have a common basis
for communicating and sharing ideas, we all lose. This is especially true at the university level
because with so many different cultures and languages it is hard to communicate effectively, but
not if there is a central language. Mujica argues that to be successful in the US, English must be
spoken to be successful in America, to earn a better, higher paying job, to communicate on a
daily basis in situations that are heavily English-speaking (such as grocery stores or doctors
offices) one must learn to speak English and if the university decides to implement a policy in
which only standard English be used, then it can ensure, or at least increase the chances that its
students will go on and be successful contributors to society.
There are many counter arguments against the implementation of a policy that states that
only standard English can be used in the classroom. One of these many arguments states that
while a central language may be beneficial in communication, the tradeoff is a loss in cultural
identity and the ability to speak their native language. While this may seem sensible at first,

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further examination shows that this argument is invalid. No one is being forced to speak English
exclusively, one can still speak their native language at home, with friends or relatives, it is only
at the university that one should have to speak Standard English. People come to college to learn
and further their education, and communication should be paramount above all. The only way to
achieve this feat is the make sure that there is a policy of a Standard English.
The implementation of a policy that mandates that only Standard English be used in the
classroom is beneficial to both students and the university as a whole. Not only does using
English as a conduit for learning allow everybody to participate in class and understand the
material, but it allows learning to flow freely, much like a free-flowing exhaust. When English is
used, no one is left out of the conversation, everybody has an equal chance to succeed, and by
using English, no language barriers would exist to block ideas from gushing out of bright, young
minds. Some may say that using English exclusively takes away from cultural identity, but it
does not; in fact, it enhances culture, by being able to bring different cultures together; Chinese,
Mexican, American, British, Pakistani, and being able to share their individual and unique
cultures effectively and without difficulty, that is what America was founded upon, and that is
what a central language will accomplish. If Standard English is used in the university, than it can
accomplish feats never before possible, students will learn even more than they could before, and
like the Roman Empire which flourished for over five hundred years as a unified nation, the
university will be strong, connected, and no one will be left out.

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Nordquist, Richard. "What Is Standard English?" About.com. About, n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2012.
<http://grammar.about.com/od/grammarfaq/a/standardenglish.htm>.

Tan, Amy. "Mother Tongue." Acts of Inquiry. Boston/New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2011. 711716. Print.

Mujica, Mauro. "Opinion: English Can Unify America." Politico. Tampa Bay Times, 24 Aug.
2012. Web. 27 Oct. 2012. <http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0812/80054.html>.