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.
*A previous version of this report provided an incorrect attribution for data about the effect of language barriers on American business. That data was published in a study sponsored by the Coalition for International Education.
- Language and the Fulfillment of the Potential of All Americans
Terrence Wiley, Ph.D., with Beatriz Arias, Ph.D., Jennifer Renn, Ph.D., and Shereen Bhalla, Ph.D., Center for Applied Linguistics
- America’s Languages: Challenges and Promise
Richard D. Brecht, American Councils for International Education
- The Contributions of Language to the Economic Interests of the United States
Prepared by the Joint National Committee for Languages
- Language and Productivity for all Americans
Judith F. Kroll and Paola E. Dussias, Center for Language Science, The Pennsylvania State University
- Foreign language, Cultural Diplomacy, and Global Security
Gail H. McGinn
Members of the Commission on Language Learning
- Paul LeClerc
Columbia Global Center in Paris,
- Martha Abbott
American Council on the Teaching of
- Mark Aronoff
Stony Brook University
- jessie “little doe” baird
Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project
- David S. C. Chu
Institute for Defense Analyses
- Dan E. Davidson
American Councils for International Education; Bryn Mawr College
- Nicholas Dirks
University of California, Berkeley
- Brian T. Edwards
- Karl W. Eikenberry
Stanford University; United States Army, ret.
- Rosemary G. Feal
Modern Language Association
- Carol Gluck
- Nancy McEldowney
Foreign Service Institute, U.S. Department of State
- Philip Rubin
Haskins Laboratories; formerly, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
- Rubén G. Rumbaut
University of California, Irvine
- Marta Tienda
- Ken Wallach
Central National Gottesman Inc.
- Diane Wood
U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
- Pauline Yu
American Council of Learned Societies