Report: The State of Languages in the U.S.: A Statistical Portrait

A new report from American Academy of Arts and Sciences makes a data-based case for building U.S. capacity for foreign languages. Language education is dwindling at every level, from K-12 to postsecondary, and a diminishing share of U.S. residents speak languages other than English, according to a new report from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. “The State of Languages in the U.S.: A Statistical Portrait” is a precursor to another forthcoming report from the academy about how the U.S. might build language capacity to meet the needs of the increasingly global economy and otherwise “shrinking world.” According to the introduction, “By several measures, the United States has neglected languages in its educational curricula, its international strategies, and its domestic policies. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 60 million U.S. residents speak a language other than English at home—a number that has been growing decade by decade since the 1970s. But of the more than 230 million English speakers in the United States, very few develop proficiency in a language other than English in our schools, and the numbers of school language programs and qualified language teachers appear to be decreasing. Meanwhile, American businesses have reported a need for employees who understand the nuances of communicating with the international community, and the federal government continues to struggle to find representatives with enough language expertise to serve in diplomatic, military, and cultural missions around the world.”

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