Dear Mr. President,
In view of the announcement of your intention to meet with civil society groups, I am writing to ask you to include the association I chair, Hablamos Español, among the NGOs whose work, opinion and proposals you are going to take into consideration.
Hablamos Español is an association that works throughout Spain to ensure that the linguistic rights of Spanish-speaking people are respected by public administrations. We try, above all, to ensure that children whose mother tongue is Spanish can enjoy the benefit of having it as the vernacular in school.
Mr. President, in Spain there are children who can study in their language and others who cannot. To justify this discrimination, we are told that it is something essential to recover speakers for the languages of Spain other than Spanish and also they want to convince us that this is done for their own good.
In the autonomous communities with more than one official language, studying another language as a subject during all educational stages might achieve a good oral and written competence. It is true that if they also study Natural, Social Sciences, Biology, Philosophy and all other subjects in that language they acquire more vocabulary and fluency, but all that terminology, all those words they don't learn in Spanish slow down and hinder Spanish-speaking student learning.
By studying in its mother tongue, the child learns more and acquires knowledge and educational language better. This is what common sense tells us, and there can be no doubt about it, the UNO stated back in 1953, and those who are subject to this partial or total immersion into another language in class know it as well as their families. This is why you will not find any country in the civilized world where children are subject to such restrictions.
The proponents of theories that children's brains learn like a sponge and thus pick up Spanish on the street, write reports in which academic results and tests that evaluate linguistic competence are glossed over. I will not evaluate the motives that lead them to manipulate reality and intend to make us believe that a subtraction is an addition. The purpose of this letter is to make you aware of the testimonies of many adversely affected families. They feel impotent when they feel when they see something so valuable taken away from them, Spanish-speaking families moving to other another community where their children cannot be taught in Spanish, children with learning difficulties, hearing problems and so many other less fortunate children to whom the imposition of language harms them even more than the rest.
You say you're trying to meet communities that are progressive. When it comes to progress, I would ask you: What has brought a country more progress than a good education? Your party had always claimed to be the architect of the implementation of general education in Spain and to have successfully broken down barriers of inequality. The language imposition is a source of discrimination and inequality between students from different autonomies and between families with different purchasing power and education. Families with fewer cultural resources cannot close gaps through their personal commitment, those with fewer economic resources cannot make up for deficits through remedial teaching or pay for a private school where they can escape this absurdity. Did you know that in Spain many families leave public schools for this reason, even though they are faced with expenses that are difficult for them to bear?
Mr President, I am pleased to be able to pass on to you what we are told by hundreds of thousands of people who came to our tables last year to sign our petition for the free choice of language and what they are telling us now when they come to our stands or write to us asking for advice, support and information. Among these people are voters from various parties, people who understand that something as good as teaching in their mother tongue transcends party colors and symbols.
Gloria Lago, President of Hablamos Español
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