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ACTFL ED Appointed to AAAS Commission to Conduct National Study on Language Learning

CONTACT: Marty Abbott
(703) 894-2900

Alexandria, VA—The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), represented by its Executive Director, Marty Abbott, will participate in the newly formed American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) Commission on Language Learning, a national effort 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 will work with scholarly and professional organizations around the country to gather available research about the benefits of language instruction at every educational level, from pre-school through lifelong learning, and will help to initiate a nationwide conversation about languages and international education. It will study all the ways in which Americans receive language education, from classes in traditional academic settings to government programs to workplace enrichment, in order to identify best practices and opportunities for improvement. The last major, national report on language learning was Strength Through Wisdom: A Critique of U.S. Capability, published in 1979 by the President’s Commission on Foreign Languages and International Studies.

“Language learning should be among our highest educational priorities in the 21st century,” AAAS President Jonathan Fanton said. “By reviewing existing practices and proposing new ideas, the Academy’s Commission will advance the conversation about language education, focusing on a body of knowledge and a set of skills that will become more critical as communication between and among cultures increases.”

Two years ago, ACTFL developed a strategic plan for action on federal and state priorities. One of ACTFL’s top federal priorities was securing a congressional request for data demonstrating the connection between language learning and economic competitiveness.

Working with its partners on Capitol Hill and at JNCL-NCLIS, ACTFL helped to secure a bipartisan, bicameral request from Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Rep. David Price (D-NC), Rep. Don Young (R-AK), Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and former Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) for a study examining this connection.

According to ACTFL President, Jacque Van Houten, “Much like how the report “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” report created the political will for the America COMPETES Act, ACTFL believes the results of the AAAS study will help lawmakers understand language learning in an economic context and lead them to take transformative legislative action to expand support for language learning. We look forward to working with the American Academy of Arts and Sciences over the course of their study.”

ACTFL will also work with AAAS to coordinate the release of the report with the launch of a public awareness campaign, Lead with Languages, to mark the start of a sustained movement to make languages a national priority and to create a new generation of Americans competent in other languages and cultures.

About ACTFL:
The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) is the national association for language education professionals from all levels of instruction and representing all languages. With more than 12,500 active members, ACTFL provides innovative professional development opportunities, acclaimed training and certification programs, and widely cited books, publications, scholarly journals, research studies and language education resources, including Foreign Language Annals and The Language Educator magazine. As part of its mission and vision, the organization provides guidance to the profession and to the general public regarding issues, policies, and best practices related to the teaching and learning of languages and cultures. ACTFL is a leading national voice among language educators and administrators and is guided by a responsibility to set standards and expectations that will result in high quality language programs.

About AAAS:
Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is one of the country’s oldest learned societies and independent policy research centers, convening leaders from the academic, business, and government sectors to respond to the challenges facing the nation and the world. In its work, the Academy focuses on higher education, the humanities, and the arts; science and technology policy; global security and energy; and American institutions and the public good. Current Academy research has resulted in reports like The Heart of the Matter—cited by the members of Congress in requesting that the Academy undertake this new study of language learning—and Restoring the Foundation: The Vital Role of Research in Preserving the American Dream. The Academy’s work is advanced by its 4,600 elected members, who are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business, and public affairs from around the world.

Thursday, July 30, 2015