“¿Por Qué no Sabes Español?”: Pressured Monolingualism and Its Impacts on Mexican Americans
The question of language diversity in US classrooms has been widely debated in the public sphere and among educators, including scholars and teachers of rhetoric, writing, and literacy studies. While many teachers, scholars, and administrators in higher education support multilingual education in theory, they struggle to know how to enact it. Compounding this challenge is the fact that negative attitudes toward and policies about multilingualism in the K-12 context influence some multilingual families to decide to raise their children to speak only English. Drawing on semi-structured interviews with family members and friends, the author examines the causes and consequences of monolingualism for Mexican Americans. The author argues that political and educational discourses pressure families to assimilate to a monolingual society and that “pressured monolingualism” weakens family relationships, ethnic identities, and cultures. This article concludes by considering why K-12 school districts should embrace multilingualism, how public attitudes can change, and ways those who’ve experienced “pressured monolingualism” can take advantage of the resources of higher education and university life to learn languages and explore and celebrate their cultures with others.