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Professor Manuel Hernández
Essays Collection

Email: josejosue24@gmail.com
Address: : 2012 Ernest St. Kissimmee, Florida 34741

Manuel Hernandez was born in Sleepy Hollow, New York in 1963. He completed undergraduate studies at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus and finished a Master�s in Education from Herbert H. Lehman College (CUNY) in the Bronx in 1994. He has coordinated symposiums, produced and coordinated television interviews on the literature written by Puerto Rican and Latino/a writers from the Diaspora. He has done numerous presentations, workshops and seminars on how to integrate latino/a literature in the English classroom. In 2014, he participated in a TedxTalk (Connections) at Southern New Hampshire University. He is the author of three books, , Latino/a Literature in the English Classroom (Editorial Plaza Mayor, 2003), The Birth of a Rican (Imprenta Sifre. 2008) and Living the Kingdom with purpose (Imprenta Sifre, 2013). He is a Language Arts teacher at Osceola School District in Florida.
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“Aquí se habla inglés”, you're in the United States

by Manuel Hernández

Last summer while vacationing with my family in the world's most famous theme park, I was speaking English, Spanish, Spanglish, Span-English and a variety of sorts because my California New York Puerto Rican background allows me to code-switch and play with language whenever I feel like doing so. “De repente”, all of a sudden, a middle-aged man wearing a Yankee baseball hat and an L.A. Laker jersee cried out to us, “Aquí se habla inglés, you're in the United States.” He quickly moved away from us before we could react to his statement. I have encountered this situation a dozen of times or more in different cities in the United States of America. With Latinos multiplying in numbers like never before, Spanish has made its presence felt all across America.

In the United States of America, there is a growing and diversified minority that speaks a language that is not completely well-received by many in the mainstream. Athough the Latino presence has overwhelmed Hollywood, Congress, State Governments, Major League Baseball, Education and many other American institutions, there is still a resistance to the speaking of Spanish in America. Many feel uncomfortable to hear Spanish being spoken in baseball parks, schools, beaches, malls, hotels, restaurants and historical sites. They whisper, mumble and openly complain when conversations they do not understand are held in their presence and get angry when coming across Spanish language stations in television and radio.

In reality, the man's reaction was normal. We are a nation with strong political, social and economic ties with countries in Spanish-speaking countries in Europe, the Caribbean, Central and South America, but the predominant language of the mainstream here is English. With the amount of Latinos in American cities growing by the second, Spanish has become an every day reality that all of us must deal with on a daily basis. But why feel apprehensive about Spanish? In the 1980's and 1990's, The English Only movement voiced its concerns about the use of the Spanish language. A few years later, the presence, influence, use of Spanish has augmented to heights yet unknown. Why fight against a supernatural reality?

When the contrasts between the majority and minority collide, fear in the death or destruction of the other takes over. A language is a way of living, an essential element in defining culture and its people. Through language, we master reality and the most intimate emotions are revealed to us. Without a language, there is no life. Spanish represents the vital force of the new America. When a language is imposed upon a nation, it creates mixed and undesired reactions. In Sandra Maria Esteves'poem “Here”, the speaker describes how the imposition of English has alienated her from Spanish: “I speak the alien tongue in sweet boriqueño thoughts.”

Bilingual education is history, and a great percentage of Latino teens graduate from high school without mastering basic skills in science, math, reading and writing. Even today many mainstream English teachers use force and imposition to teach English. New incoming English teachers come into the classroom lacking the professional training to work with the ever-growing Latino minority. When I was hired as an English as a Second Language Teacher by the City of New York in 1988, I was immediately trained by professionals in the teaching of ESL. I was assigned a buddy teacher who had experience in the area. This is not the norm today. Most Bilingual/ESL Programs across America have been dismantled, and Latino teens continue to be the largest minority in many cities in the United States. Latinos have demonstrated their willingness to contribute in America. We are a nation founded by immigrants.

Latinos are the new immigrants in America today, and they have and will always be a part of the heart of America. They have ingrained the majority of American cultural expressions, but Spanish is and will be deep inside the heart of those who were born and raised outside of the United States. That does not make them less Americans. This year's World Series Champions are overwelmingly Latino. Fear of Spanish expresses the majority's inability to understand that Spanish is influencing American culture in ways many fail to comprehend.

I spent the whole day trying to hook up with my buddy in the theme park. There was no way I was going to miss him because we were both sports fans of the same teams in basketball and baseball. I had thought of something to tell him, but he was nowhere to be found. I wanted to tell him that “Aquí se habla inglés and Spanish too.”