Is everyone around the world really speaking English?

A global perspective on why the U.S. should invest in language learning:

…Not everyone is on the English bandwagon—by some estimates, 75% of the world does not speak English.

Let’s explore some of the policies other countries have regarding English—and why they matter to the U.S.

EDWeek: Foreign Language Policies: Is Everyone Else Really Speaking English?

International perspective on foreign language study

A stark contrast:

The typical European pupil must study multiple languages in the classroom before becoming a teen. Studying a second foreign language for at least one year is compulsory in more than 20 European countries… Meanwhile, the U.S. does not have a nationwide foreign-language mandate at any level of education. Many states allow individual school districts to set language requirements for high school graduation, and primary schools have very low rates of even offering foreign-language course work.

Pew Research Center: Learning a foreign language a ‘must’ in Europe, not so in America

Children exposed to multiple languages may be better natural communicators

Researchers discovered that children from multilingual environments are better at interpreting a speaker’s meaning than children who are exposed only to their native tongue. The most novel finding is that the children do not even have to be bilingual themselves; it is the exposure to more than one language that is the key for building effective social communication skills.

UChicago News: Children exposed to multiple languages may be better natural communicators

The Value of Language Diversity

We can do more Massachusetts — Support Language Opportunity!

Language diversity brings many benefits: each tongue contains a wealth of knowledge, often reflecting rich spiritual and cultural traditions, critical medicinal and agricultural practices and unique understandings, all providing a lens into how different groups of people view the world. Language is intrinsic to a people’s identity, so to lose a language may mean to lose a people.

We need to take seriously the proposition that languages are part of a person’s – and a society’s – identity and we need to value languages as we do other precious resources.

What would this look like? Local schools would teach in multiple tongues…

Should All Students Learn a Second Language?

Yash Khatavkar, a TED-Ed Club Member and high school senior, argues for increased language learning:

Speaking someone else’s native language is not only important for things such as business and trade, but is also critical for more lofty purposes such as international understanding and transcending cultural boundaries.

A Leader for Language Opportunity

Each year, Education Week shines a spotlight on some of the nation’s most outstanding school district leaders in its Leaders To Learn From special report. This year, Richard A. Carranza, Superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District, has been recognized for Leadership in English-Language-Learner Education. He asks:

“Why would you not want to produce bilingual students in the public education system? It baffles the mind.”

Double Standard for Bilingualism?

“Bilingualism is often seen as “good” when it’s rich English speakers adding a language as a hobby or another international language, but “bad” when it involves poor, minority, or indigenous groups adding English to their first language, even when the same two languages are involved.”

New Research on Bilingualism and the Brain

New research shows that bilingualism leads to structural changes in the grey matter and white matter of the brain, in response to the increased demands of juggling information between two languages.