Massachusetts falls farther behind in language education

LANGUAGE word cloud, education business conceptAs dual-language programs are added around the country, Massachusetts falls farther behind in promoting language education:

School leaders in New York City, the nation’s largest district, are expanding their dual-language offerings beyond Spanish and Mandarin to include Russian, Hebrew, Japanese, and Haitian Creole.

The Houston school district opened an Arabic-language school this year, in part because the metropolitan region has seen its Arabic-speaking population spike in recent years.

And in the Westminster, Calif., schools, the state’s first Vietnamese dual-language program opened in Little Saigon, a Vietnamese enclave in Orange County.

Education Week: Districts Diversify Languages Offered in Dual-Immersion

Seal of Biliteracy

Support the Seal of Biliteracy in Massachusetts! Support An Act to Establish a State Seal of Biliteracy H.422/S.336 and An Act relative to Language Opportunity for Our Kids (LOOK) H.498/S.262.

“A lot of businesses want to know, ‘Do you know Chinese? And how do I know you know?’ And you can have your certificate as verification.”

NPR: On The High School Diploma: A ‘Bilingual’ Stamp Of Approval?

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.

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.”