Saturday, June 2, 2018

Increasing Access to Language Education in America

In this report, the Commission on Language Learning recommends a national strategy to improve access to as many languages as possible for people of every region, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background—that is, to value language education as a persistent national need similar to education in math or English, and to ensure that a useful level of proficiency is within every student’s reach.  

Key findings include:

-       The ability to understand, speak, read, and write in world languages, in addition to English, is critical to success in business, research, and international relations in the twenty-first century.  
-       The United States needs more people to speak languages other than English in order to provide social and legal services for a changing population.
-       The study of a second language has been linked to improved learning outcomes in other subjects, enhanced cognitive ability, and the development of empathy and effective interpretive skills. The use of a second language has been linked to a delay in certain manifestations of aging.  
-       The United States lags behind most nations of the world, including European nations and China, in the percentage of its citizens who have some knowledge of a second language.

American Academy of Arts & Sciences (2017). America’s languages: Investing in language education for the 21st century. Cambridge, MA:
Commission on Language Learning.

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