AAAS Commission on Language Learning Issues Final Report
A new report by the Commission on Language Learning of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences calls for a national strategy to improve access to language learning and to place the need for language education at the forefront of education policies. ACLS President Pauline Yu served as a member of the Commission and continues to serve as a member of the Academy’s board. The full report of the Commission, America’s Languages: Investing in Language Education for the 21st Century, can be found here, and its five recommendations are listed below.
From the report:
The Commission recommends a national strategy to improve access to as many languages as possible for people of every region, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background, with a goal of valuing language education as a persistent national need similar to education in math or English, and to ensure reaching proficiency is within every student’s reach.
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.