For years I’ve been hearing educators of English-language learners complain about how many Americans don’t recognize the valuable native-language skills of these students. They ask: What better way is there to reverse Americans’ reputation for being fiercely monolingual but for the nation to tap into the language skills of immigrant communities?
Well, as I report this week in Education Week, some legislators and policymakers in the state of Maryland are poised to take better advantage of the skills of “heritage speakers,” people who speak a language other than English at home. A Maryland task force has written a report with recommendations for how state agencies can better recognize and use the native-language skills of heritage speakers to meet the foreign-language needs of government and business. An audit by the task force found that Maryland ranks third among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in its share of foreign-born residents who have at least a bachelor’s degree.
Read the report. It may give you some ideas for how you can convince your state to better recognize and support the heritage-language skills of English-language learners. I can’t think of any way that a state can lose out by trying to better utilize the language skills of immigrant communities.
I’ve also written about this report over at the other blog, Curriculum Matters, to which I contribute.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.