"NBC Nightly News" on Aug. 9 at 4:30 p.m. included a segment on the rush in China to learn English.

The reasons given were basically twofold: to encourage peace through better understanding, and to allow the Chinese economy to grow.Yet, here in an English-speaking nation, we have had repeated moves to make English the official language and they are opposed by well-meaning persons from other cultures. Somehow, these individuals feel that learning English will detract from their own identity and culture.

The language spoken in an individual's home and among friends must always be a choice made by that individual; the traditions practiced must always remain uninhibited as long as they do not restrict the same privilege of those with other backgrounds.

But English is the language of commerce in the entire world.

I respect the cultures of all people and find variety adds color and interest to our lives. But when I attempt to make a purchase at a nonethnic store, I expect the sales clerk to speak English in an understandable manner. The ability to communicate enables that salesperson to be successful.

When I visit Mexico, I cannot expect all the sales clerks to speak correct English; but because many English-speaking tourists visit there, the most successful sales clerks will speak English.

I hope that the next time the Utah Legislature considers making English the official language of Utah, those who have opposed it in the past will reconsider. Wherever you live in the entire world, you have a definite advantage if you speak English. If you resist this fact, you risk placing yourself (and your children) in the position of being ill-equipped to advance financially in today's business world.

Forest Hansen

Salt Lake City