In 2014, a bipartisan group of members of Congress asked the American Academy of Arts and Sciences to undertake a new study of the nation’s language education needs. Four members of the United States Senate—Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), Mark Kirk (R-Illinois), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii)—and four members of the House of Representatives—Rush Holt (D-New Jersey), Leonard Lance (R-New Jersey), David Price (D-North Carolina), and Don Young (R-Alaska)—signed two letters requesting that the Academy provide answers to the following questions:
How does language learning influence economic growth, cultural diplomacy, the productivity of future generations, and the fulfillment of all Americans? What actions should the nation take to ensure excellence in all languages as well as international education and research, including how we may more effectively use current resources to advance language attainment?
In response to this request, the Academy created the Commission on Language Learning. The Commission’s final report, America’s Languages: Investing in Language Learning for the 21st Century, offers concrete recommendations to improve access to as many languages as possible, for people of every age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background.
Support for the Commission was provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Henry Luce Foundation, and resources from the Academy’s New Initiatives Fund.
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