American Councils for International Education, one of the great nonprofits working around the globe to expand multicultural and multilingual education, recently announced the launch of the AC Research Center (ARC).
Since the 70s, American Councils has organized international exchange programs as well as provided language immersion opportunities, testing and assessment of skills, professional training, community development efforts, and scholarly research.
What will happen at the Research Center?
The ARC will be devoted to undertaking research that improves the data available for policymakers making decisions about the future of language learning.
There are obviously quite a few centers like this for research into education practices, but the ARC is the first to be focused on world language acquisition, application, and relevance in today’s world.
Some of the key purposes of the data the ARC hopes to uncover include:
- The impact of a second language on educational achievement
- Language immersion, both internationally and in the American K-12 system
- Cognitive advantages of acquiring bilingualism
The ARC plans to work with researchers already engaged in these fields, sponsor fellowships in the United States and internationally, and provide informational activities and round tables for policymakers and the general public in the efforts to accomplish these goals.
Importance for language education efforts
The development of the ARC is important not only for those concerned with the current state of language learning in the United States, but also those who believe multiculturalism will be a defining factor in the success of the nation’s students in the global economy. It will hopefully also provide some relevant data on how important language learning can be for students’ performance in their other subjects.
Just as those efforts are important for students whose first language is English, it’s also important to understand and activate ways to improve the prospects for our English language learning students, a population that will continue to increase in the coming decades.
These students can become valuable, bilingual members of the school community and the American economy. They just need the right educational support. Hopefully the work undertaken by the ARC will shed some light into ways to improve our approaches to ELL students.