Nashville for All of Us


The issues

You might be asking one of these

frequently-asked questions

about English Only

and Nashville for All of Us

Do immigrants have to learn English
before they move to Nashville?

Immigrants do not have to know English before they get to Nashville.

Immigrants are required to demonstrate English proficiency before they become U.S. citizens, but there are some exceptions for people over 50 or people who have been in the U.S. over 20 years.  Furthermore, not everyone who lives in the U.S. is required to (or even allowed to) become a U.S. citizen.  Green card holders, also called “permanent residents,”  fit into this category - as do tourists, business vistors, international students, and others.

Those who aspire to be U.S. citizens go through a long and arduous citizenship process, even while they are living in Nashville.  Immigrants still have to interact with local government agencies even while they are learning English but before they are conversant or fluent, and it varies from individual to individual. When refugees come to Tennessee from Sudan, they don’t learn English in a refugee camp in Chad. They learn English once they get here.

There are over 45,000 foreign-born individuals in Davidson County who are currently working towards their citizenship.  Every one of those individuals is following the right process for becoming a citizen, but English Only jumps the gun, telling these aspiring citizens that they shouldn’t get any help understanding certain Metro communications - even before they take their citizenship test.

The better approach is taken by the Tennessee Department of State, which launched a Japanese-language written drivers' license exam in 1996.  Knowing the difficulties of learning English for Japanese companies’ workers and families, our great state has demonstrated its understanding that English learning is not a requirement or a reality for many immigrants until after they arrive in the U.S.

Will a cut in foreign language use by Metro
encourage immigrants to learn English more quickly?

A charter-driven reduction of foreign language use across Metro government would amount to forced isolation of immigrants during the English learning period.

If Metro departments are forced to pull any of their foreign-language communications, the target audiences will be cut off from that information until they learn English. 

Will new immigrants no longer be able to contact a 911 operator if they are victims of a crime, have information to prevent a crime, or need to report a serious accident? How many crimes, fallen electrical lines, or broken streetlights will go unreported?  

Imposing an artificial language barrier will also slow down customer service lines for native English speakers and English learners alike.  It will create confusion and misinformation and degrade the quality of Metro services for all residents.

When the Metro Council passed its pro-English resolution in 2006, it found that English-only legislation has a “potentially detrimental impact on those who are already linguistically isolated; and…increased linguistic isolation for Limited English Proficiency individuals may have the unintended consequence of slowing their rate of English acquisition.”

Did the proponents of English Only in Nashville
consult Metro departments, educators, immigrant groups,
or research about language acquisition before
drafting their referendum?

A Virginia group has “played a key role,” but Nashville groups are left out.

In a press release issued in August, 2008, Arlington, Virginia-based ProEnglish stated that it “played a key role” in bringing English Only to Nashville.

No Metro departments, local educators, businesses, faith, or immigrant groups were consulted.

For more information, click here to download the bullet points.

Paid for by Nashville for All of Us and Nashvillians Who Support the Metro Charter

Lisa Pote, Treasurer

P.O. Box 280328, Nashville, Tennessee 37228 615-324-6080

Photos on this page © Chris Wage.  Used with permission.


The proposed language of the English Only charter amendment is as follows:

English is the official language of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee. Official actions which bind or commit the government shall be taken only in the English language, and all official government communications and publications shall be in English. No person shall have a right to government services in any other language. All meetings of the Metro Council, Boards, and Commissions of the Metropolitan Government shall be conducted in English. The Metro Council may make specific exceptions to protect public health and safety. Nothing in this measure shall be interpreted to conflict with federal or state law.

Voters will choose either
For Ratification, or
Against Ratification

Against Ratification
is the vote supported by Nashville for All of Us

about issues values coalition blog facebook youtube
contribute sign up volunteer downloads
e-mail us voteAbout.htmlValues.htmlhttp://coalition.nashvilleforallofus.orghttp://blog.nashvilleforallofus.orghttp://facebook.nashvilleforallofus.org

explore the

entire site

Bullet Points