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UMD Convenes International Forum on Barriers and Opportunities in Foreign Language Education

September 30, 2013
Contacts: 

Pamela Morse 301-226-8899

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Language leaders from government, industry, and education will gather today to examine the feasibility of eradicating barriers to foreign language education in the United States.

Language leaders from government, industry, and education will gather today to examine the feasibility of eradicating barriers to foreign language education in the United States. The forum on language education and policy, entitled “Languages for All? The Anglophone Challenge,” is convened by the University of Maryland Center for Advanced Study of Language (CASL) and will result in a white paper with recommendations to be released in late fall.

“CASL has spent the last 10 years applying research to some of the most difficult problems in adult language learning and on-the-job use,” said Dr. Amy Weinberg, executive director of CASL. “Now, we are eager to use our research findings to improve instruction in K-16 settings. With our co-sponsors and distinguished panelists, we hope to break through the barriers in the entire language learning pipeline, from early childhood, through college graduation and eventual entry into the workforce.”

The event is co-sponsored by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), American Councils for International Education, British Academy, Defense Language Institute Foundation, Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) and Joint National Committee on Languages – National Council for Language and International Studies (JNCL-NCLIS).

National Security Agency Director of Research Michael Wertheimer, University of Maryland President Wallace Loh, Vice President and Chief Research Officer Patrick O’Shea, and University of Maryland Director of Language Initiatives Richard D. Brecht will give opening remarks.

“This is an important shift in the dialogue on language,” explains Brecht, who has been at the forefront of the language policy field for more than 40 years. “Before, the question was, ‘why is foreign language learning important?’ Now, it’s ‘why aren’t more Americans learning foreign languages?’ These are two very different questions.”

The day consists of six interactive panels with representatives from the British and Australian academies, Fortune 500 companies, the Department of Education, Department of Defense, and school boards, along with researchers, school administrators, foreign language practitioners, policymakers and a former governor.  

Event participants were given a working draft of the white paper before and during the event to be released in its final form in late fall. The following questions frame both the white paper and the event:

  • Should the education system in the U.S. provide all children access to the interpersonal, developmental, and economic benefits of a second language?
  • Are our schools, colleges, and universities capable and willing to make language education universally available? If so, how? If not, why not?

In addition to the approximately 160 onsite participants addressing these questions, the event is expected to draw live streaming and live tweeting participants from around the world. To learn more, follow live at http://te.rps/lfa