Resolution on English as the “Official Language”

1986 NCTE Annual Business Meeting in San Antonio, Texas


A movement throughout the United States in the 1980s to establish English as the official language, within individual states and in the nation as a whole, raised concern among educators and others, worried that it could lead to discriminatory actions toward American speakers of other languages. The proposers commended the 1986 TV series “The Story of English” (PBS) “for illustrating the capacity of English to accommodate and incorporate the linguistic characteristics of many peoples and cultures.” Be it therefore


Resolved, that the National Council of Teachers of English condemn any attempts to render invisible the native languages of any Americans or to deprive English of the rich influences of the languages and cultures of any of the peoples of America;

that NCTE urge legislators, other public officials, and citizens to oppose actively action intended to mandate or declare English as an official language or to “preserve,” “purify,” or “enhance” the language. Any such action will not only stunt the vitality of the language, but also ensure its erosion and in effect create hostility toward English, making it more difficult to teach and learn; and

that NCTE widely publish this resolution to its affiliates and other professional organizations through news releases and letters to legislators, boards of education, and other state officials, especially in those states attempting to legislate English as an official language.

This position statement may be printed, copied, and disseminated without permission from NCTE.