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?

Include bilingual instruction for all students in ESEA reauthorization

A commentary in Education Week supporting expanded bilingual education in ESEA reauthorization:

While employers are clamoring for bilingual or even multilingual employees for an increasingly globalized economy, U.S. schools turn out relatively few students who are even somewhat competent in a second language. Hard figures are unavailable, but we know that only 5 percent of the 4.2 million Advanced Placement exams given in 2014 were in a foreign language, and only slightly more than half these students scored a 4 or a 5. That’s about 100,000 students—about six-tenths of 1 percent of the country’s nearly 16 million high school students. Most egregiously, instead of maintaining and building on the home-language abilities of 11 million students in our public schools, we actually attempt to quash them, if only by neglect.

Education Week: Congress: Bilingualism Is Not a Handicap

Diversity Needed in the Foreign Service.

U.S. foreign policy is informed and improved by a wider range of experiences, understandings and outlooks. To represent America abroad and relate to the world beyond our borders, the nation needs diplomats whose family stories, language skills, religious traditions and cultural sensitivities help them to establish connections and avoid misunderstandings. For some of our international allies that are themselves facing diversity issues, American diplomats of diverse backgrounds can help them build bridges. For others, diversity in the American diplomatic corps makes the United States seem more approachable.

The Washington Post: The Foreign Service is too white. We’d know, we’re top diplomats.

America’s Lacking Language Skills

Kirsten Brecht-Baker, the founder of Global Professional Search, recently told me about what she calls “the global war for talent.” Americans, she said, are in danger of needing to import human capital because insufficient time or dollars are being invested in language education domestically. “It can’t just be about specialization [in engineering or medicine or technology] anymore,” she said. “They have to communicate in the language.”

From The Atlantic: America’s Lacking Language Skills

Utah’s Road to Language Education

After passage of a law in Utah to fund the teaching of critical languages, there are intensive language programs in 118 of the state’s schools that teach Mandarin, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German and other languages.

The law’s sponsor, Republican State Senator Howard Stephenson, had an “epiphany” after traveling to China and meeting scores of young people who spoke fluent English:

“On the plane ride home, I was worried about America’s future … I was excited for the Chinese and their rising nation, but I wondered what could I do as a policymaker to assist in helping the United States connect to these rising nations?”

Opportunity for Bilingual Interpreters

Found in Translation is a Boston area program that provides training, free of charge, to bilingual women who earn very low incomes so they can become bilingual medical interpreters, opening up new economic opportunities for the women and their families.