Evaluation of Fallow’s essay
Nowadays, more and more people from different countries come to American to study and work; these people all speak their native language. Therefore, bilingualism is very common in the United Stated, but many American people would have the same view that in the USA, we should consider English as the official language instead of bilingualism. James Fallows, the Washington editor of the Atlantic, illustrates his opinions in his article “Viva Bilingualism” that it is not necessary to declare English as the American’s official language. He thinks that bilingualism learning should not be regarded as a kind of polygamy but more likely to be having two children; people have the ability to master a second language. What’s more, English is not a fragile blossom language as some people think (259-63). However, this essay is not persuasive due to the ineffective evidence and week claims, but it has clear target audience.
To present his points proficiently, Fallows uses sufficient evidence to support his view. However, most of his evidence is not convincing enough to persuade his audiences. Yet, to support his argument, he uses a fact and a statistic as sell as his personal observation. For example, Fallows supported his second point that English is not fragile blossom; he relies on his personal experiences about Japanese English learning. He said that in Japan, Japanese can see English signs everywhere; they can read four English-language daily newspapers everywhere, and they are eager to learn English and get caught a lot of attention to English learning (262). However, this example only shows author’s observation, which might make his audience doubtful about the truth about what he said. He says that when he and his families traveling around in Malaysia and South China, almost all the local people want to practice English with them (262). But this evidence is not efficient enough because he only traveled some countries and met some people; his experience cannot represent a common situation. Fallows also use the example of Spanish immigrant to support his second point that English is not a fragile blossom. In the article, he says these immigrants are dying to learn English well because for them, that’s the necessary part to fit in the U.S. society (262-63). But actually there are still many immigrants choose to use their own language, this is also the author’s own thought and does not come out on any basis of the date analysis, so it cannot be a very strong evidence for his claim.
What’s more, although Fallows’s article is to object to American’s contempt for bilingual education, his evidence is mostly about the situations in the foreign countries instead of talking about the condition in American; the focus is not clear and some of the evidence might not be reliable to the topic. Fallows says that Malaysia had sent thousands of people to the English speaking countries for studies, which shows that English has huge impact and is in the dominate statues all over the world (261), but he ignores that facts that there are also many students from English-speaking countries go to other countries like China and Japan for their further study and work. As bilingualism is a common phenomenon around the world, if he wants to show the readers that bilingualism should be support in the U.S, he should use examples in the U.S. area and try to see things from U.S. citizens’ point of view; otherwise, he can never persuade his readers.
Fallow’s tone is informal in the article. When he talks about the counterargument that some people support English to be declared as America’s “official” language, he use the words “yes, yes”, and “come on!” to answer the question that whether English is a kind of fragile blossom(260-263). These words are informal for an essay and have his personal emotion and may cause the readers to think that the author does not consider the bilingualism question seriously. Fallows also use many rhetorical questions like “Why don’t we count that as a good thing?” in his essay (Fallows, 262), that might make his audience doubt whether the author really understand the topic he is talking about and has deep understanding on it.
The target audience is clear for the author, as Fallows’s audience are general audience, he does not use many advanced language and complex statistic to support his point, on the contrary, mostly he just used his personal experience, observation and fact as evidence. For example, when he was talking about his second point, he talks about what he has seen in American, the immigrants’ children are all consider learning English as necessity because they believe English is an important factor for them to fit in the America society and get better life (262-63). This evidence is Fallows’s personal experience, for America audience, it is common phenomenon in America and they can observe it by themselves, so they can easily understand this evidence and understand author’s point, He also talked about Malaysia, Chinese and Indians in Singapore; each of the groups can speak more than one language (260-262), which is the fact to show that people have ability to accept another language besides English. This evidence is easy for the general audience to understand and has shown them the success example of bilingualism education in other country. Fallows essay and his claims can be easily understand by normal people and do not require them to have much knowledge on this topic.
In conclusion, the article “Viva Bilingualism” by the author James Fallows does not have sufficient evidence that cannot prove his opinions clearly and his tone is kind of biased. But his specific group of audiences is clear as he uses simple evidence that these audiences can easily understand, therefore, he can deliver his message directly to his audiences. To persuade his audiences, I think Fallows can use more facts and statistics in his essay. Personally, I agree with Fallows’s point that bilingualism should be support in the U.S. because people actually have ability to accept more than one language and immigrants have ability to speak their native language.
Fallows, James. “Viva Bilingualism.” Exploring Language. Ed. Gary Goshgarian. 8th ed. New York: Longman, 1998. 259-265 Print.