Recently I saw a video of a man in Columbia City, Indiana, who placed a flag in his yard that said “If you live here, speak English.” He said he placed this flag in his yard after going to Wal-Mart and being “offended” after hearing a few people speak Spanish. I am so grateful that other languages exist and that none of us are forced to learn the same one. Without other languages, English would not exist.

When I hear people demand that others in America speak English, I feel sorry that they don’t understand how messy English is and how many other languages came together to form it.

English is a concoction of French, Norse, Danish, and Old English, mixed and changed by German, Spanish, Chinese, and of course my favorite, Latin, among others. Without these languages, English would not exist. Rather than demanding those different than us assimilate, we should celebrate them and their language that gave us ours.

America has no official language. Of course, it will likely be easier if you can speak English in America, but it’s not a requirement, nor should it be, to live or visit here.

I often wonder why the discussion about people speaking Spanish in American hasn’t sparked a want for teaching American children more than one language. It seems rather than learn something new, many Americans would rather keep doing the same old thing, never change, and would rather others conform to our perceived standards.

Often the debate comes up about school age children learning cursive – a form of writing that is dying out and should rightfully do so. Some believe schools should keep teaching the outdated and messy writing, but I have a better suggestion. Rather than teach our children an old form of writing that very few people use anymore, perhaps we should teach them other languages that will be far more useful, especially as the world becomes more diverse.

The prime time for people to learn another language is when they are very young. America is very far behind when it comes to being a bilingual country. When I’ve spoken to people from other countries I’m always impressed to learn that they know many languages. In high school I had befriended a German exchange student who told me that in Germany she had been taught English, alongside her native German, at a very young age.

Recently a foreign exchange student from Kazakhstan job shadowed me, and I learned that at the age of 18 she can speak multiple languages fluently.

Many countries have multilingual school programs that are taught to students at a young age. Could you imagine how rewarding it would be to have always known another language alongside English because you were taught it in second grade?

Now, at age 26, I am preparing to take two full years of Latin to fulfill my language requirement at school. Likely, if we were a nation that focused on being multilingual, this requirement would not even exist. I do find it interesting, however, that colleges feel that learning another language is important enough to our society that learning it is a requirement. Now, I could have chosen anything – Russian, Chinese, Spanish, French, German – but, I chose Latin because I’m interested in learning more about the English language and I know it plays a very important part in discovering more about words.

It’s too bad that I wasn’t able to learn one of these valuable languages 15 years ago. Instead, I’m stuck wishing that in elementary school I would have been taught Spanish or French rather the cursive I haven’t used since third grade. I hope educators don’t fail young people today in the same way.