Technology can limit people's world.

We’re always hearing that technology “broadens people’s horizons” and “brings the world together”. However, I see plenty of cases now where technology is used to keep people’s worlds small.

In decades past, people moving to most parts of the United States could not avoid learning to understand at least some English. TV was in English, the radio was in English, and the newspaper was in English. Even people who spoke another language at home still had a lot of English in their environment.

Now it’s possible to get a satellite dish and subscribe to “the Arabic package”, “the Polish package”, “the Russian package”, “the Latino package”, etc. They can stream radio from their own countries into their homes, and they can read their own country’s print media online. The result is that there are more and more ways for people to keep English out of the house, and you see more people who have lived in the US for 2, 3, even 5 years who speak almost no English, and those who do often progress more slowly in learning the language.

A balance of all things is necessary, IMO. If you live in a country where the majority speak English and that language is not your first language, it’s wise to maintain access to that language, but it’s also important to have regular access to your own language.