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

Monolingual Ph.D.’s?

Most US doctoral programs have dropped their foreign language requirements.

Being monolingual is a concrete drawback for today’s science professors, too, given that scientists in most other nations are capable of working in multiple languages. Foreign-language proficiency is not essential to get research done, but it does increase one’s options. Most U.S. scientists might believe that knowing multiple languages is not critical, however, I imagine we might get a different answer if we ask their current and potential research collaborators for whom English is a second language. While internationally visible scholarship is primarily published in English, many of the laboratories that generate this work do not necessarily use English on a day-to-day basis in the lab.


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?”

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.

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.”

Opportunities Needed for Foreign Language Study

A report on foreign language education in cities and towns south of Boston, highlighting the disparity in opportunities and the need for a Seal of Biliteracy in Massachusetts.