In an under-covered moment I only caught by streaming the event online, Sen. Barack Obama told voters today in Powder Springs, Georgia, they should not be worried about making the United States an “English-only” country.
He said he agrees immigrants should learn English, but felt the concern should be more about global competitiveness.
“Instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English, because they will learn English, you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish,” he said. “We should have every child speaking more than one language.”
For comic effect, he added, “It’s embarrassing when Europeans come over here, they all speak English, they speak French, they speak German. And then we go over to Europe and all we can say is ‘Merci beaucoup.’”
He said a foreign language is a “powerful tool” to becoming more employable in the global economy and said children learn languages easier than adults.
“We should be emphasizing foreign languages in our schools from an early age, because children will actually learn a foreign language easier when they’re 5, or 6, or 7 than when they’re 46, like me,” he said.
UPDATE, 10 A.M. WEDNESDAY: Here’s some video:
— Christina Bellantoni, national political reporter,
The Washington Times
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