Language: Mission Critical

Both in the United States and abroad, political, business, and education leaders are urging greater attention to teaching children foreign languages to help bolster international competitiveness, and in some cases, national security. This three-part series examines the obstacles to expanding and improving such offerings as well as innovative approaches to building students’ language skills.


English is hot in many foreign language schools abroad. But as the trend accelerates, so too has debate over the value of English in a global society, its strong historical connection to imperialism, and the monolingualism to which English-only countries steadfastly cling at the risk of losing their share of the world marketplace.
April 11, 2006 - Education Week

Even as the focus on foreign-language instruction up north and Down Under has waned recently in the wake of renewed attention to reading, mathematics, and science instruction, countries outside the United States where English is the primary language have more than a decade’s head start in their language skills and public attitudes on the importance of language learning.
April 11, 2006 - Education Week

As Mexican education officials expand English classes from junior high to primary schools, they are relying on technology until enough teachers can be trained to speak and teach English well.
April 11, 2006 - Education Week

If the United States is going to take advantage of the linguistic skills of millions of children in this country who speak languages other than English at home, policy has to change at the district, state, and national levels, experts in the field say. Includes accompanying audio and video.
April 4, 2006 - Education Week

Even with growing demand and the prospect of new federal and state aid for improving foreign-language instruction, expanding offerings is especially difficult because of a shortage of qualified teachers in what are deemed critical languages, many experts say.
March 28, 2006 - Education Week

By all accounts, interest in language classes outside the traditional offerings has grown over the past several years as more attention is paid to the need for speakers of Arabic and Chinese to help deal with the United States’ security and economic concerns. But hard data are lacking in a field that is measured only periodically.
March 28, 2006 - Education Week

At a time when many policymakers and business leaders are clamoring for American children to take up the languages of Asia and the Middle East to help buttress the United States’ international competitiveness and national security, the policies and resources are as much of a mismatch as the languages that are being taught.
March 28, 2006 - Education Week

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