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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Language Study

A release from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences:
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences today released the final report and recommendations of the Commission on Language Learning, a national effort established to examine the current state of U.S. language education, to project what the nation’s education needs will be in the future, and to offer recommendations for ways to meet those needs.
While more than 65 million U.S. residents speak a language other than English at home, that number represents only 20.7 percent of the total population, and only a fraction of this cohort is considered proficient in reading, writing, and speaking a second language.

The vast majority of American citizens remain monolingual.


The Commission’s five recommendations are:
  • Increase the number of language teachers at all levels of education so that every child in every state has the opportunity to learn a language in addition to English.
    • Encourage the coordination of state credentialing systems so that qualified teachers can find work in regions where there are significant shortages.
    • Attract talented and enthusiastic language teachers through federal loan forgiveness programs.
    • Develop and distribute online and digital technologies, as well as blended learning models, particularly in communities with a short supply of language teachers.
    • Provide new opportunities for advanced study in languages in higher education—for future language teachers as well scholars in other fields—through a recommitment to language instruction, blended learning programs, and the development of new regional consortia allowing colleges and universities to pool learning resources.
  • Supplement language instruction across the education system through public-private partnerships among schools, government, philanthropies, businesses, and local community members.
    • Draw on local and regional resources by working with heritage language communities and other local experts to create in-school and after-school instructional programs.
    • Maintain support for state humanities councils and other organizations that create vital language and cultural resources for local communities.
  • Support heritage languages already spoken in the United States, and help these languages persist from one generation to the next.
    • Encourage heritage language speakers to pursue further instruction in their heritage languages.
    • Provide more language learning opportunities for heritage speakers in classroom or school settings.
    • Expand efforts to create college and university curricula designed specifically for heritage speakers and to offer course credit for proficiency in heritage language.
  • Provide targeted attention to Native American languages as defined in NALA.
    • Increase support for the use of Native American languages as the primary languages of education, and for the development of curricula and education materials for such programs.
    • Provide opportunities for Native Americans and others to study Native American languages in English-based schools with appropriate curricula and materials.
  • Promote opportunities for students to learn languages in other countries, by experiencing other cultures and immersing themselves in multilingual environments.
    • Encourage high schools and universities to facilitate learning abroad opportunities for students.
    • Increase the number of international internships sponsored by businesses and NGOs.
    • Restructure federal financial aid to help low-income undergraduates experience study abroad during the summer as well as the academic year.
The full report, entitled America’s Languages: Investing in Language Education in the 21st Century, is available at
ges and international education.