[lg policy] US: Foreign Language Education Strategies, Objectives and Goals

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jul 22 19:45:16 UTC 2009

 Forwarded From: : edling at lists.sis.utsa.edu

Via JNCL through ILR-INFO...
Foreign Language Education Strategies, Objectives, and Goals
Joint National Committee for Languages and the National Council for
Languages and International Studies

July 14, 2009

Although attention to education in the United States has tended to wax
and wane depending on the political climate, we have now reached a
critical time for education reform wherein the future of our country's
global economic success, national security, and quality of life will
be a direct result of education decisions that are made today.
Currently, we are in the midst of policy debates on how to use the
enormous stimulus fund provided for education through the American
Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the pending reauthorization
of the federal education law, the Elementary and Secondary Education
Act of 1965 (currently entitled No Child Left Behind). Because of
these critical opportunities for change in education in the United
States, it is vital to the future success of American students to
ensure that they acquire global competency and skills for the 21st

Due to the increasingly global nature of today's economy and job
market and the technological advancements of global interconnection,
it is more essential than ever that foreign language education play a
significant role in the development of 21st century skills at all
levels of education, together with science, technology, engineering,
and mathematics. Foreign language and culture skills are paramount for
today's students to complete for successful careers in the federal
government especially regarding diplomacy and national security,
international business, and translation and interpretation, among many
others. Despite this, foreign language instruction in K-12 schools in
the United States has decreased during the last decade largely due to
accountability and time constraints resulting from the No Child Left
Behind legislation and overall funding limitations (Center for Applied
Linguistics, 2008, unpublished data).

          For these reasons, the Joint National Committee for
Languages and the National Council for Languages and International
Studies (JNCL-NCLIS) propose the following policy strategies in order
to advance foreign language proficiency outcomes among all U.S.
students, provide national coordination of language programs at all
levels, and implement systemic solutions to make such proficiency
outcomes a reality.

The need for national-level coordination:

·         Throughout the United States government, provide a national
framework and coordinating system for foreign language education that
is overseen by a national advisor and coordinating council, such as
provided for in Senator Daniel Akaka's National Foreign Language
Coordination Act of 2009 (S. 1010); and,

·         In the Department of Education, create a position and office
for an Assistant Secretary of International and Foreign Language
Education, who would oversee and direct foreign language and
international programs within ED and also work in cooperation with a
national foreign language advisor and other federal agency officials
to fulfill national language objectives.

The need for systemic solutions that lead to increased and prolonged
language study and aim to achieve high levels of proficiency:

·         Reaffirm the importance of foreign languages as a "core
subject area"  and a core area of knowledge in the reauthorization of
the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), acknowledging that
languages appear second on the core subjects list prepared by the
Partnership for 21st Century Skills and fourth on the list of Goals
2000 standards in basic academic subjects;

·         Create and implement a national framework for sequenced and
articulated preK-12 language programs, beginning at the elementary
level and continuing progressively through higher education, that
employ the national foreign language standards and valid and reliable
assessments to measure proficiency outcomes;

·         Encourage content-based language instruction and immersion
education, starting in elementary school and continuing through the
baccalaureate and/or professional levels, including overseas study, to
increase the number of college graduates with "professional
proficiency" in two or more languages with attention to major world
languages currently underrepresented in U.S. education as well; and,

·         Recognize the importance and benefits of early instruction
in commonly taught languages as a foundation for students to gain
competency in one world language and acquire language learning skills
and provide later opportunities for study of less commonly taught and
more difficult languages;

·         Increase and reinvest the amounts of sustained federal
funding available for articulated foreign language programs and
increase grant funding opportunities to assist schools with the
startup costs associated with beginning new, innovative, and/or
significantly improved language programs.

The need for targeted research into questions regarding foreign
language education:

·         Provide funding for targeted research into questions, such
as best practices (including, e.g. class size, time on task, use of
target language), methodology, assessment techniques, teacher
preparation, and the domestic and global effects of second language
competency, that have been identified by language professionals as
important to increasing the production and efficiency of language

The need for more highly qualified, certified foreign language

·         Address and correct the shortage of highly-qualified
language teachers by increasing the number of avenues by which
teachers can demonstrate competency and become certified at all levels
of education, and by voluntary standardization of this process across

·         Address and correct the current foreign language teacher
shortage by providing scholarship funding, study abroad opportunities,
and other incentives to foreign language students and professionally
competent graduates with language proficiency to pursue credentials
for language teaching careers; and,

·         Increase funding and incentives for teacher professional
development opportunities, including study abroad and language
immersion experiences, to increase the number of highly qualified
language teachers at all levels.

If we are able to achieve these goals through federal legislation and
policies, the future workforce of the United States will be better
equipped with the necessary communication and cultural skills to
become active participants in a global society. Students will have the
language resources they need to compete with their peers around the
world for job opportunities and will also provide the United States
with a cadre of individuals prepared to deal with national security,
economic stability, effective diplomacy, and other critical issues of
the 21st century.

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