Back in August 2010 a new bill was passed by congress, called Excellence and Innovation in Language Learning Act. The bill was quietly brought in yet deserves headline news because of the importance to the future economy and security of the U.S.A. Congress proposed legislation to offer every young American the opportunity to study another language as well as English, influencing students to learn Arabic or Mandarin Chinese. China has overtaken the U.S. in college completion and also in their language learning programs so it is imperative to keep up and eventually overtake this and other countries ahead of us at the moment. In Afghanistan the military cost the U.S. $200,000,000 per day so Americans must learn the Arabic language for economic reasons, security, knowledge of the Arab culture and most importantly to save lives.
The funding for this bill is $200,000,000 per year yet measured against the military costs and the $2,000,000,000 lost in business each year because of the lack of language and cultural understanding, seems a small price to pay. It was suggested that the U.S. departments of state in commerce and defense join together and formulate a general summary on how to meet the diverse needs of the students. These sectors of U.S. departments have extensive knowledge in language training and train adults to proficiency level in just two years, so imagine the success rates of teaching much younger students.
The idea was to introduce language teaching from elementary level of education through to secondary until they are proficient. The bill also states that learning a language successfully is influenced by the course structure and not by the number of years it is studied.
Why it is so important!
Many organizations and corporations are praising this legislation as a strategic move, they include the Asia Partnership for Global Learning, American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, Joint National Committee on Languages, Committee for Economic Development and the National Education Association.
The president Barak Obama stated that under the new re-authorization of ESEA in September 2011 (The Elementary and Secondary Education Act) derived from ‘No Child Left Behind’ will concentrate on developing a world class education system. A senior advisor to the Asia Society said that it is vital to understand global cultures, economy, social and environmental systems through learning critical languages. Less than 20% of Americans are proficient in a foreign language, while 90% of Europeans learn at least one other language to fluency level. For the sake of Global understanding and to bridge that gap between our world cultures we must learn Arabic or Mandarin Chinese, the two most critical languages to the U.S. today.