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Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Columns & Features > Guest Voz > Guest Voz: Azteca America’s Chairman Explains Why New English Programming Shouldn’t be Translated into Support for English-Only Debate

Guest Voz: Azteca America’s Chairman Explains Why New English Programming Shouldn’t be Translated into Support for English-Only Debate

By Luis J. Echarte
LatinaLista

The Azteca America television network has a presence in 60 markets across the United States and currently ranks fourth among Spanish-language networks broadcasting in the country.
Recently, Azteca America has been in the headlines because of a new initiative to launch a 60-hour series of English classes on 60 U.S. affiliates. Filmed in Mexico City, the classes will be produced by students of Azteca America’s partner, the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), supervised by Azteca’s directors.
Surprisingly, an initiative with intentions to fill a need among its viewers has its own set of critics challenging the motives of why a Spanish-language network would invest in a move that would appear to contradict their business goals.
In a special response to Latina Lista, Luis J. Echarte, chairman of Fundacion Azteca America and the Azteca America network, explains why the Spanish-language network feels English needs to be part of their programming.

Since Azteca America and Fundacion Azteca America announced plans late last month to offer English-as-a-second-language (ESL) courses on our television network, the obvious question that arises is Why?
From a business perspective, a limited read would be that we are preparing viewers to migrate to Anglo networks.
However, we don’t see things that way.

Spanish-language television is often a first-stop and point-of-reference for information for recently arrived immigrants. Our community looks to us for guidance on immigration, legal changes, and natural disasters, to name a few examples.
There’s no doubt that our community can better assimilate themselves and increase their economic and political power with increased linguistic skills.
The only problem arises when our plans are used to fuel the English First movement. We are closer to Congressman Serrano’s English Plus initiative.
Should we all read and write English? Yes.
Should it be a mandate and be used as a thinly veiled form of racism? No.
Looking at things from another perspective, it would be great if everyone in the US spoke two or three languages fluently.
Bilingual education is a wonderful experience for both native Spanish and native English speakers. Not only does language education expand frames of mind. It also makes good business sense.
Our program has become part of the national debate.
First the LA Times picked up the story, then it was the San Diego Union Tribune and then Fox News.
English First?
No.
English Plus and more?
For sure.

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Comment(9)

  • Avatar
    Frank
    November 23, 2007 at 7:50 pm

    No, it should be English “first” in the USA because that is our national language. That doesn’t mean one can’t be bi-lingual. It just shows that an immigrant is assimilating into our English speaking society. It has nothing to do with racism or any English only propoganda. This whole article is pure racist propoganda in itself.

  • Avatar
    diana joe
    November 27, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    Frank :
    No, it should be English “first” in the USA because that is our national language. That doesn’t mean one can’t be bi-lingual. It just shows that an immigrant is assimilating into our English speaking society. It has nothing to do with racism or any English only propoganda. This whole article is pure racist propoganda in itself.
    —————————
    That is what YOU prefer Frank.
    English isn’t the United States’ protocol for language are you kidding?!
    Some States, and certain RACIST communities have and are still attempting to make monumental moves to erase other forms of languages from their environments,but they are left ridiculed and feeling stupid.(it doesn’t work)
    America is comprised of diverse cultures which include their own languages,and YOU Frank are the only one that appears to be missing the point here?!
    When a native american choses to visit the White House with a particular agenda concerning his tribe or pueblo or village he is welcomed even with his indigenous wear-yep even his headdress!
    Nothing here has any relevance to you Frank,but you are persistant…and old.

  • Avatar
    EYES OF TEXAS
    November 28, 2007 at 11:23 am

    My employer has decided to sent me to Viet Nam for two years to help with a refinery project that is being built by BP. I do not speak Vietnamese and do not intend to learn, since it is such a difficult language. Can anyone please advise me on how I will communicate with my Vietnamese counter-parts to make this a successful project. I’m sure no one in the isolated village where I will be staying speaks any English, so things like finding out directions, how to get the food I want, where things are located and other information may become difficult. Any suggestions from anyone will be helpful.

  • Avatar
    miguel
    November 28, 2007 at 12:43 pm

    EOT http://www.101languages.net/vietnamese/
    for minimal effort.

  • Avatar
    EYES OF TEXAS
    November 28, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    Didn’t I say that I do not want to make an effort to learn a language that is’nt my native tongue? Besides, if they want to talk to me they need to learn English even though I am in their country. Hope you’re getting the point of this exercise.

  • Avatar
    miguel
    November 28, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    EOT

  • Avatar
    Frank
    November 28, 2007 at 7:00 pm

    Diana, just because there are some racists in this country or those who want an “English only” rule should not deter us from insisting on immigrants assimilating to our language. Should we not make English our “official” language because of a few nutcases? Making English our official language will not disallow anyone from speaking another language, legally. Why are people like you not complaining that Mexico for example’s official langauge is Spanish?
    We have a core and identifying culture in this country. All others are minority cultures.

  • Avatar
    Horace
    November 28, 2007 at 9:03 pm

    EOT, Hispanics would tell you not to remain ignorant and learn another language, Spanish. Oh, it doesn’t help with Vietnam? Doesn’t matter. There are immigrants other than Spanish in this country, like Koreans, Polish, Lithuanian, Chinese, Iranians, Indians, Pakistanis, Omanis, Nigerians, Czechs? Doesn’t matter, learn Spanish, press option one on the phone and shut up.

  • Avatar
    EYES OF TEXAS
    November 29, 2007 at 8:01 am

    I neither have a need, nor desire to learn Spanish and ignorance need only be applied to those that live in a nation and refuse to speak the acceptable language of that nation. Your list of other non-English speaking people is impressive, but from my life experiences, these people generally learn and speak English if they live in the US. Sure, amoung their countrymen and family they will speak in their native tongue, but in public, amoung the general population, they prefer to speak English. It would seem that only Spanish speaking people have some hang-up about the English language. Besides, I have always heard that a Mexican is like a cue ball, the harder you hit it, the more english you can get out of it.

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