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National Academies Releases Report on Dual Language and English Learners

On February 28, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures, a report by the Committee on Fostering School Success for English Learners. The report assesses the current state of English language education in the United States and offers recommendations on how to improve learning outcomes for dual language learners (DLLs) and English learners (ELs). Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states have a responsibility to address disparities in the educational outcomes of DLLs/ELs.

The report contains 14 recommendations designed to inform policy and offers a research agenda. The Committee recommends standardizing terminology across agencies, that state education agencies examine the relationships between students’ characteristics and English ability, and that the Institute of Educational Sciences within the U.S. Department of Education encourage research on the effects of state ESSA variation on DLLs/ELs. The report also highlights research gaps in understanding DLLs/ELs with disabilities.

This article was contributed by COSSA’s spring intern, Laila Rosenthal of American University.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 7), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

LSA Releases Annual Report on Linguistics in Higher Education

The Linguistic Society of America (LSA), a COSSA Governing Member, has issued its fourth Annual Report on the State of Linguistics in Higher Education. The report shows a growing popularity of the linguistics major at four-year colleges and universities, as well as a number of other interesting highlights such as career trends, demographics, and specializations.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 7), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

AAA&S Report Makes Recommendations for Improved U.S. Language Education

On February 28, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAA&S), a COSSA member, released, America’s Languages: Investing in Language Education for the 21st Century, the final report of the Commission on Language Learning. A bipartisan group of U.S. Members of Congress requested that AAA&S establish the Commission in order “to examine the current state of U.S. language education, to project what the nation’s education needs will be in the future, and to offer recommendations for ways to meet those needs.”

The Commission found that only 10 percent of the U.S. population speaks a second language proficiently, a number insufficient to meet either the nation’s current or future demand. At the report release event, Ambassador Nancy McEldowney, Director of the Foreign Service Institute and a Commission member, noted that it is far more cost effective for the U.S. government to hire people who already possess language skills, rather than teaching those skills to its employees. Individuals who can speak a second language exhibit improved cognitive skills and are faster at learning additional languages.

The Commission offered five recommendations for increasing language education, with the ultimate goal of exposing 100 percent of U.S. students to a second language. Paul LeClerc, the Commission’s Chairman and Director of the Columbia University Global Center in Paris, said that a lack of language teachers is the main obstacle to this goal. The report’s first recommendation is increasing the number of language teachers in U.S. schools, which would require considering language instruction as an education priority, equivalent to math education. The Commission suggested two research areas that would aid in this increase: an investigation of the state of language programs at a school district level and evaluation of using digital technology in language instruction. The report also suggests developing higher education consortia to encourage advanced language study and a student loan forgiveness program for language teachers.

The report also recommends increased support for heritage language speakers (those who grow up with a second language at home), Native American languages, study abroad opportunities, and partnerships between public and private language education stakeholders. The Commission released a companion report, The State of Languages in the U.S.: A Statistical Portrait, in December 2016, which contains data backing the final report.

This article was contributed by COSSA’s spring intern, Laila Rosenthal of American University.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 7), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Interagency Working Group on Language and Communication Seeks Input on R&D Report

The Interagency Working Group on Language and Communication (IWGLC) is seeking public input on its recently released report, which establishes a taxonomy to classify current federal research and development activities related to language and communication. Housed within the National Science and Technology Council, the IWGLC (charter) is made up of representatives from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, National Science Foundation, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Education, Department of Defense, Department of Agriculture, Department of Justice, Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, Department of Commerce, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Department of Transportation. The request for information was submitted by the Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES). The IWGLC report suggests classifying ongoing language and communication R&D efforts according to the following four categories: (1) knowledge and processes underlying language and communication, (2) language and communication abilities and skills; (3) using language and communication to influence behavior and share information; and (4) language and communication technologies. The comment period closes on December 30, 2016. More information is available in the Federal Register notice.

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Posted in Issue 23 (December 13), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

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