March 18th, 2012
11:55 AM ET

Poll: Should English be the preferred language spoken in Puerto Rico?

In the days leading up to the Puerto Rican Republican primary, English language comments by Rick Santorum created controversy and may be the reason for losing all 20 delegates to Mitt Romney.

In an interview with El Vocero newspaper Santorum said he did not support a state in which English was not the primary language. "As in any other state, (Puerto Rico) should comply with this and every other federal law and that is that English must be the primary language."

The specific federal law that Santorum was referring to is unclear. There are no federal laws, which require English as the primary spoken language for statehood. And the U.S. Constitution does not designate an official language.

In an interview with CNN Santorum defended his position, "obviously Spanish is going to be spoken here on the island, but this needs to be a bilingual country and not just a Spanish speaking country. It's essential for children in America to speak English to fully integrate and have full opportunity."

Santorum is correct that Spanish is by far the most commonly spoken language in Puerto Rico, but English and Spanish are already the official languages.

A referendum on whether to pursue statehood or remain a self-governing U.S. commonwealth will be on the November 6 ballot.

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Filed under: Education • Language • Latino in America • Politics • Polls
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Paul

    I think that one of the biggest iseuss for English language learners is trying to accurately communicate with those who do not speak their native language. I have never been to another country, so I do not know what it would be like to be surrounded by people who did not speak the same language that I did, but I imagine that it would be really frustrating. Sometimes it is frustrating on my end of the conversation, trying to understand exactly what a foreign person is asking when a question arises, so I can only imagine how they feel. Another issue for them may be trying to figure out how to hold onto their native culture and still adopt some of the ways of the English culture so that they can better adapt to their surroundings. This can be a very confusing and frustrating experience, especially when they are constantly surrounded by the second culture on a day to day basis. It could also be that the English language learners are forced to forget their native culture altogether. Some schools may not be open to other cultures and may try to force students to forget about their native culture and adopt the mainstream culture’s views. This can be very hard for children and can also impede their ability to learn English.There are many ways that one can address these iseuss. It is important to be understanding of other cultures and not become frustrated as they try to communicate with you. It is probably a lot harder for them to try to come up with the words to say than it is for you to try and comprehend what they are saying. It is also important to be open to other cultures and want to learn about them. We cannot just force the English language on them. If we allow them to retain some of their native culture, then they will be able to adopt the English language more quickly. It is easy to look down on others when we are not the ones struggling to learn something new, but what everyone needs to remember is that if the situation were reversed, you could be in the same situation as the English language learners, just in another country learning a different language.

    April 17, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. DTbos

    If Pr became a state i would move there right away..and they already speak English and shudnt have to make it an official language..But should be taught in school as well...People should also have the right to speak Spanish due to their cultural and historical ties to Spain..God bless my Boricuas

    April 17, 2012 at 2:51 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jerv

    It's so funny how the folks screaming the loudest that they should have English as their primary language are the ones with the worst language skills themselves. Heck, I think we should teach Spanish as a second language in US public schools.

    March 21, 2012 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jorge

    Holy cow. By the content, history and redaction skills expressed in many of the comments about Puerto Ricans and Puerto Rico here, I'd guess that the estimated stateside U.S. high school dropout rate of 25% is probably a gross underestimation.

    March 21, 2012 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
  5. Hellen

    To whoever wrote this, English is already a mandatory subject in private and public schools. I went to private schools from k-10 and public from 11-12. (I found public school curriculum much easier than private school though) Graduated high school and was able to speak, read and write English. Went on to college in the USA and did better than many Americans in their English placement test. My niece and nephew started their English education by watching cable TV with US programing in English.

    March 20, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Miriam Gonzalez

    During the late 70s and early 80s I was a staff member of ADT in PR. The US military camps were recruiting our young men to go to their war to shoot the enemy, none English speaking Welcome .... Who asked no one. We should not forget that the Colonia does exist.

    March 20, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  7. Luz Velázquez

    People are so ignorant, go to the history where did you came from Italy, Germany, Poland and the Mayflower, don't you remember? You are just jeaulous because PUERTO RICANS, are born US citezens we don't have to take a test or pledge to the flag we are born under the flag. We speak both language and don't need a passport to enter the country our country. Sorry but we are going to keep our fight and become a state whether you like it or not.

    March 20, 2012 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
  8. Cardinal Ratzinger

    If they are citizens the should speak English and forget about Puerto Rican if they want statehood. If they don't want to be part of this great country cut their welfare so real Americans can take advantage of it.

    March 19, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jorge

      "If they are citizens the should speak English and forget about Puerto Rican(???) if they want statehood..." My Lord, you dozed off through Language Arts and Social Studies for all twelve years (presuming you didn't drop out) didn't you??

      March 21, 2012 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
  9. AMERICA 1st

    And if any of those bugs from the south is caught sneaking into the USA along the rio grande, a well placed lead pellet will stop that very quickly!

    March 19, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donovan

      Indeed.In Ottawa(for example), I've cetinod similar signage, but written up in at least eight other languages on a given poster. Languages, I assume, that are those most likely to be spoken/written by those needing the English lessons they're looking for.

      April 17, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. AMERICA 1st

    There should be a federal law that ENGLISH is to spoken within the USA borders and all of the American possessions. If people that comes here cant speak ENGLISH, refuse them entry and send them back wherever they came from!

    March 19, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Luz Velázquez

    Who asked our men and women in the service if they spoke English or not. Respect our people we are not ignorant, we are US citezens. Our language is not the issue.

    March 19, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |