Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told a gathering of Hispanic journalists that immigrants should avoid Spanish-language media if they want to learn English quickly.
“You’ve got to turn off the Spanish television set,” the Republican governor said Wednesday night at the annual convention of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. “It’s that simple. You’ve got to learn English.
“I know this sounds odd and this is the politically incorrect thing to say and I’m going to get myself in trouble,” he said. “But I know that when I came to this country, I very rarely spoke German to anyone.”
“I’m sitting shaking my head not believing that someone would be so naive and out of it that he would say something like that,” said Alex Nogales, president and chief executive of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, who called the remarks “preposterous.”
Nogales said Schwarzenegger must have forgotten the challenges of being an immigrant in the United States. Hispanic immigrants need Spanish-language media to stay informed and “function in this society,” he said.
The governor said after-school programs and tutoring were important, but immigrants must avoid Spanish-language books, television and newspapers if they really want to master English.
“You’re just forced to speak English, and that just makes you learn the language faster,” Schwarzenegger said.
The governor said it can be more difficult for Hispanics because they may have many Spanish-speaking peers, so they are not forced to learn English as quickly as other immigrant groups.
Pilar Marrero, the political editor for the Spanish-language newspaper La Opinion, chuckled at the governor’s comments about Hispanics learning English.
“They’re too busy working,” she said.