December 3, 2011

Editorial: United States Needs More Multilingualism


You Know the Joke, And It's Not Funny
By Anthony Jackson
November 30, 2011

What do you call someone who speaks two languages? Bilingual. What do you call someone who can speak one language? American. It's an old joke that's no longer funny.

U.S. national security and American businesses alike have called for greater language capacity among Americans, but schools have not been able to help meet this need.

In this rapidly changing and increasingly global economy, there is a growing need for workers with the skills to work across different languages and cultures. In fact, according to the Committee for Economic Development, a non-profit organization of more than 200 business leaders and university presidents, "to compete successfully in the global marketplace, both U.S.-based multinational corporations as well as small businesses, increasingly need employees with knowledge of foreign languages and cultures to market products to customers around the globe and to work effectively with foreign employees and partners in other countries."

Beyond the clear economic and professional advantages of achieving facility in a language other than English, language learning also has clear cognitive benefits for students of all ages.

Read the full editorial at

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