Eva Longoria opens up about the US’s obsession with English-only

Why is it that many in the United States are fixated on speaking only one language? You might not feel that way, but many do…
Eva Longoria opens up about the US’s obsession with English-only

Eva Longoria spoke about the importance of bilingualism in the United States on Jose Diaz-Balart’s show on MSNBC. She will host the 15th annual ALMA Awards this year. (Screenshot: MSNBC)

Why is it that many in the United States are fixated on speaking only one language? You might not feel that way, but many do feel it should be an English-only country, and it’s a topic Eva Longoria focused on as she promoted the 15th annual ALMA Awards this week.

Longoria will host the American Latino Media Arts Awards (ALMA for short) for Hispanic History Month on Friday night–and took up the issue with MSNBC host Jose Diaz-Balart Thursday morning during his show. She told Diaz-Balart the question of bilingualism in Latinos boils down to celebrating your identity.

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“We’re the only country in the world that promotes monolingualism,” Longoria told Diaz-Balart.

Diaz-Balart, a Cuban-American TV host, is an example of the bilingual and bicultural society that continues to grow in the United States, as he hosts his daily MSNBC show in English and hosts sister network Telemundo’s national newscast at 6:30 p.m. in Spanish.

Diaz-Balart has felt the pushback from some ultra-conservative pundits for the way he uses the Spanish pronunciation of Hispanic names and words on his show, and even for his on-the-spot translations with interview subjects who only speak Spanish while on MSNBC.

“Some have taken offense to the fact that Latinos speak two languages and say names correctly; it’s not about rubbing it in your face, it’s about being respectful,” Diaz-Balart told Longoria.

Radio commentator Laura Ingraham mocked Diaz-Balart’s pronunciation of Maria Cruz Ramirez, an immigrant mother of three he interviewed recently in his show.

She dubbed his interview as “annoying” because he was “saying the name in the native tongue,” rolling his rrr’s and pronouncing it in a Latino accent during his presentation. She also criticized his sometimes stilted real-time translation to English of the interview with her. For the sake of fairness those types of on-air translations can come across as awkward and hard to follow for viewers–for a TV format of journalism a voiceover announcer as a translator works best.

The recent criticism sparked a Twitter hashtag war between supporters of both sides of the debate.

SEE ALSO: Californians may get a shot at returning bilingual education

Eva Longoria was quick to point out how being bilingual tends to be normative in many countries.

“If you go anywhere else, especially to Europe, they speak two three, four languages and it’s no big deal, and they have to in order to really navigate their countries,” Longoria told Jose Diaz-Balart in her response. “They know the benefits of being bilingual, trilingual.”

Aside from the economic benefits of speaking another language for job seekers, science has proven other benefits for speakers of two languages, in particular higher cognitive abilities.

Longoria, of Mexican descent, has been an activist for Latino and women’s causes, in addition to her acting career. She has advocated for immigrants rights, voter participation and women’s empowerment in order to advance Latino causes in the United States.

The National Council of La Raza’s 15th Annual Alma Awards air Friday, September 10th on MSNBC at 10 p.m. EST, 7p.m. Central from Los Angeles.