The purpose of our advocacy section is to provide news and information about the state of world language education in general, as well as Spanish and Portuguese in particular, in the hopes of promoting the study of languages and cultures at all levels.
Here we share possible advocacy projects, describe ideas on how to create or build upon programs, demonstrate ways to influence language policy, and finally, acknowledge the benefits of the Spanish and Portuguese languages.
AAAS Report Released: America’s Languages: Investing in Language Education for the 21st Century
Published by American Academy of Arts & Sciences, Cambridge, MA, 2017
Research Papers, Monographs, and Project Publications
Click here to read the report online and download the PDF
Executive Summary Excerpt:
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than sixty-five million U.S. residents speak a language other than English at home—a number that has been growing decade by decade since the 1970s. Nevertheless, that number represents only 20.7 percent of the total population, and only a fraction of this cohort speaks, reads, and comprehends a second language well enough to use it in their everyday lives.2 The vast majority of American citizens remain monolingual.
While English continues to be the lingua franca for world trade and diplomacy, there is an emerging consensus among leaders in business and politics, teachers, scientists, and community members that proficiency in English is not sufficient to meet the nation’s needs in a shrinking world, nor the needs of individual citizens who interact with other peoples and cultures more than at any other time in human history.
In this report, the Commission on Language Learning recommends a national strategy to improve access to as many languages as possible for people of every region, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background—that is, to value language education as a persistent national need similar to education in math or English, and to ensure that a useful level of proficiency is within every student’s reach. As children prove especially receptive to language education—they spend much of their time in educational settings and can develop language skills gradually throughout their lives—the Commission believes that instruction should begin as early in life as possible. Its primary goal, therefore, is for every school in the nation to offer meaningful instruction in world languages as part of their standard curricula.
As a corollary, the Commission urges two- and four-year colleges and universities to continue to offer beginning and advanced language instruction to all students, and to reverse recent programmatic cuts wherever possible. It also applauds recent efforts to create new undergraduate language requirements on two- and four-year campuses.
The State of Languages in the U.S.: A Statistical Portrait
Published by American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Cambridge, MA, 2016
Click here to access the report online and download a PDF.
From the Introduction:
"Languages are fundamental to nearly every aspect of our lives. They are not only our primary
means of communication; they are the basis for our judgments, informing how we understand
others as well as ourselves.
"By several measures, the United States has neglected languages in its educational curricula,
its international strategies, and its domestic policies. According to the U.S. Census Bureau,
more than 60 million U.S. residents speak a language other than English at home—a number
that has been growing decade by decade since the 1970s. But of the more than 230 million
English speakers in the United States, very few develop proficiency in a language other than
English in our schools, and the numbers of school language programs and qualified language
teachers appear to be decreasing. Meanwhile, American businesses have reported a need for
employees who understand the nuances of communicating with the international community,
and the federal government continues to struggle to find representatives with enough language
expertise to serve in diplomatic, military, and cultural missions around the world.
"While English continues to be the lingua franca for world trade and diplomacy, there is an
emerging consensus among leaders in business and politics, teachers, scientists, and community
members that proficiency in English is not sufficient to meet the nation’s needs in a
"This report summarizes the nation’s current language capacity, focusing on the U.S. education
system. The disparity between our goals—most notably the preparation of citizens who can
thrive in the twenty-first century—and the nation’s current capacity in languages will be the
subject of a forthcoming report from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Commission
on Language Learning."
Career Coach: Thriving in a global marketplace
The Washington Post published this article on November 25, 2016, that examines the importance of language and culture in today's world of work.
"The intrigue and allure of discovering new parts of the world is one reason many people list travel at the top of their bucket lists. It is also huge draw for career opportunities, especially for millennials entering the workforce seeking adventure and new challenges with global companies. And even for those who don’t seek positions abroad, the demand for international competencies at all firms is growing. According to U.S. Census data, one in three U.S. mid- and large-size companies have international operations or serve multilingual clientele.
Job candidates can set themselves apart by showcasing the global assets they bring to the table. This was the message from participants of a recent panel discussion, “Global Competencies for the 21st Century Workplace,” earlier this month at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. The panelists – all in leadership positions with international firms – had advice for students ready to hit the international job market. So what does a candidate seeking an international career really need?" Read the complete article for details!
Spanish: the global language of the future by Study International News
Though English remains, for the moment, the primary language of international commerce and pop culture, there’s another language that’s shooting to the top of the popularity charts – and no, it’s not Mandarin.
Spanish is currently one of the most popular languages for students and professionals alike – and it’s only becoming more useful, especially in the United States. Click here to read the complete article.
MLA Statement on Electronic Publications
The AATSP supports the MLA's 2015 statement on electronic publications. Click here to view the entire statement.
Why Everyone Should Learn a Second Language
Writer Kayla Matthews provides an overview of the advantages of being multilingual in today's world.
A Dialogue on the Emerging Economic Value Of Spanish in the United States
Two reports from the A Dialogue on the Emerging Economic Value Of Spanish in the United States December 2014 presentation and discussion on the studies made by the Fundación Telefónica:
Click here to access all of Telefónica's publications, including Spanish language versions of the above documents and mobile epub formats.
El español en el mundo: Anuario del Instituto Cervantes 2013
Click here to access recent regional reports on the use of Spanish from Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, and the United States, in addition to valuable articles on language, politics, culture, and other topics from a variety of sources.
Language and Innovation
October 2014. After submitting a reply to the Office of Science & Technology's request for information regarding the American Strategy for Innovation, JNCL-NCLIS has prepare this short summary of the arguments for language as an essential element in a national innovation strategy. Click here to read the brief.
Why Your Kids Should Learn A Second Language
This site provides statistics and other research on the benefits of language
learning for elementary-age students.
Click here for more information.
The following article promotes the study of world languages in general, the study of Spanish in particular, and study abroad for all students.
Go West, Young People! And East!
New York Times
Sunday, March 16, 2014
Click here to view the entire article.
How Language Seems to Shape One's View of the World
How do we support world language learning?
The benefits of any world language education program are numerous and widespread. Learning a second or third language has led to improvements in many different ways, including those that are directly correlated to a student's success as an adult. Understanding other languages and cultures can:
- build cultural sensitivity and intercultural relations,
- develop basic skills,
- lead to higher standardized test scores,
- improve cognitive development,
- benefit critical thinking,
- provide employment opportunities,
- facilitate travel,
- and lead to higher pay.
If the goal of any educational system is to produce well-rounded and productive members of society, it goes without saying that world language education is an integral part of the process. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that routinely graduates students from high school with knowledge of only one language. We cannot send students into the world as monolinguals and feel confident that, with its ever-growing global interconnectedness, they will be economically secure or culturally aware.
Competence in other languages is no longer frivolous; it is fundamental.