Language by the Shrinking Numbers

Language by the Shrinking Numbers

A new report from American Academy of Arts and Sciences makes a data-based case for building U.S. capacity for foreign languages.
By Colleen Flaherty  |  December 15, 2016

Philip Rubin, Ph,D., CEO Emeritus of Haskins Laboratories, is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences Language Commission that created this report.

Language education is dwindling at every level, from K-12 to postsecondary, and a diminishing share of U.S. residents speak languages other than English, according to a new report from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. “The State of Languages in the U.S.: A Statistical Portrait” is a precursor to another forthcoming report from the academy about how the U.S. might build language capacity to meet the needs of the increasingly global economy and otherwise “shrinking world.”

“While English continues to be the lingua franca for world trade and diplomacy, there is an emerging consensus among leaders in business and politics, teachers, scientists, and community members that proficiency in English is not sufficient to meet the nation’s needs,” the new report says.

John Tessitore, senior program adviser at the academy, helped compile the statistical portrait based on existing data on second-language learners and speakers in the U.S. for the academy’s Commission on Language Learning. He said the commission believes that foreign language should be of a higher priority throughout the American education system – not at odds or competing with other priorities, such as science and math, but alongside them.

“This is about increasing access and making language learning available,” he said. “Every student should have access and should be able to learn a language over the course of their educational life, whether they go to college or not.”  < Read the Article at Inside Higher Ed >