This post is the fourth of four in a series that seeks to advance the conversation of the importance of world language learning in the nation’s schools and how the Rosetta Stone® Language Learning Suite can help.
Isolationism didn’t work for America’s foreign policy in the 20th century and it’s becoming apparent that isolationism won’t work for the nation’s students in the 21st.
The nation’s economy is increasingly international in nature. Domestic employees might have team members all over the globe. And, perhaps, rather than those employees having to speak English, our students might have to speak their language.
Although communication skills are incredibly important in the 21st century economy, language learning brings with it much more. Cultural competency is just as important. Not only will that future employee have to speak with teammates around the world, but they also will have to have a broad understanding of their culture. It’s critical to collaboration.
A threat to American competitiveness
The state of language learning in other industrialized nations tends to outpace ours by a wide margin. Where 200 million Chinese can speak English and every student in India has to learn the language, only two out of ten students in the US are currently taking a world language course—and those tend to be in high school, even though studies show language acquisition is much more effective before the age of nine. According to the Asia Society, only 25 percent of elementary schools have a language learning program of any kind.
Congress’s efforts toward a remedy
A bill that failed to get any traction in the 111th Congress that adjourned last year sought to remedy that divide.
Proposed by Democratic representatives Rush Holt and Paul Tonko, the Excellence and Innovation in Language Learning Act would have revolutionized language instruction for every American student. According to the same Asia Society article, the bill would have:
- Provided support for the U.S. Department of Education to play a leadership role through coordinating with the departments of State, Defense, and Commerce to ensure that national security and economic needs are met; disseminating research-based best practices; encouraging innovative technology platforms; and providing study-abroad opportunities for students and teachers;
- Established a stronger state role through state-foreign-language and international-education councils that bring together economic and educational sectors to assess needs; stimulate expansion of research-based practices and innovations; and address the shortage of world-language teachers; and
- Supported partnerships at the local level to stimulate and expand effective programs in a wider range of world languages and cultures, starting in the early grades.
This legislation deserves a second chance in the 112th Congress. The nation’s competitiveness, and perhaps security, are at stake.
You don’t have to wait for an act of Congress. The Rosetta Stone Language Learning Suite can help make these benefits a reality for your students. Watch our “Realizing Opportunities: Develop Globally Competent Students with World Languages” webinar to discover how you can equip students for success after graduation with multilingual skills.
We also invite you to access these two on-demand demos. One focuses on Foundations, which provides a self-study environment for students with limited or no exposure to language. Advantage offers a higher level of personalized learning for students with previous language exposure.