Governor: Spanish media hinder English
June 15, 2007
By Sudhin Thanawala
Schwarzenegger's remarks on the importance of learning
the language draw mixed reaction from members at
National Association of Hispanic Journalists
SAN FRANCISCO - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's remarks
that immigrants should avoid Spanish-language media if
they want to learn English quickly left some Latino
journalists shaking their heads Thursday.
"You've got to turn off the Spanish television set"
and stay away from Spanish-language television, books
and newspapers, the Republican governor said Wednesday
night at the annual convention of the National
Association of Hispanic Journalists. "You're just
forced to speak English, and that just makes you learn
the language faster."
Schwarzenegger, who immigrated to the U.S. from
Austria, was responding to a question about how Latino
students can improve academic performance. The
audience included many journalists who work for
"I know this sounds odd and this is the politically
incorrect thing to say and I'm going to get myself in
trouble," he said. "But I know that when I came to
this country, I very rarely spoke German to anyone."
Some members of the audience said they were surprised
by Schwarzenegger's comments.
"I'm sitting shaking my head not believing that
someone would be so naive and out of it that he would
say something like that," said Alex Nogales, president
and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition.
Nogales said immigrants need Spanish-language media to
"function in this society."
Pilar Marrero, the political editor for the
Spanish-language newspaper La Opinion, chuckled at the
governor's comments, saying many Hispanics didn't have
time to learn English. "They're too busy working," she
Rafael Olmeda, president of the National Association
of Hispanic Journalists, said most NAHJ members would
agree with the governor's statements.
"Most people I've spoken to walked away believing that
he was trying to say that we must learn English to
succeed in American society," Olmeda said.
The Governor's Office said the statements were no
different from what he's said before.
In a 2006 editorial published in the San Jose Mercury News, Schwarzenegger
said English-language immersion was the best way to learn the language.
In October, the governor was criticized by Democrats when he said some Mexican
immigrants "try to stay Mexican" when they come to the United States and urged
them to learn English.