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Four key Democratic members of the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee have introduced legislation that would make outstanding teachers of foreign languages eligible for $10,000 cash awards.

Under the measure, which includes a number of other education-related initiatives aimed at increasing U.S. economic competitiveness, 104 elementary and secondary teachers each year would receive "Presidential awards for teaching excellence in foreign languages.''

The sponsors of the bill, introduced late last month, say they hope the awards will help alleviate a growing national shortage of qualified foreign-language instructors.

"The language of trade is the language of the customer,'' said Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, the bill's primary sponsor. "To be competitive in the international marketplace, U.S. businesses must be able to communicate effectively with clients in other countries.''

Senator Dodd's measure would require the President to present the awards to one elementary and one secondary teacher from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

The bill would also authorize the Education Department to spend $35 million in each of the next five years to pay for model programs in foreign-language instruction techniques.

Both public and private school systems would be eligible for the grants.

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