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Americas Languages Initiative

America’s Languages Initiative

 

Unique Opportunity

The Congressionally-requested 2017 American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAA&S) Commission on Language Learning and its report “America’s Languages: Investing in Language Education for the 21st Century,” refocused attention on language education, offering a new rhetoric and identifying a strategic goal and five specific recommendations aimed at a dramatic growth in equitable access for increasingly diversified learners to more effective learning in many more languages.

 

“…a national strategy to improve access to as many languages as possible for people of every region, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background…”  (America’s Languages, Executive Summary)

 

Goal

The goal of the “America’s Languages Initiative” is to bring about systemic change in the way language education is perceived and implemented in this country. Specifically, access to language learning must become more equitable for learners in marginalized bilingual and disadvantaged monolingual communities.


“…encourage and develop partnerships with a national network of early childhood and early intervention providers, schools, institutions of higher education, and other public, private, philanthropic, and nonprofit stakeholders to improve access to educational equity and economic opportunities for Black Americans” (“policy goal” from Executive Order on White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans, October 19, 2021)

Motivation

The increasing focus on social justice in the U.S. makes clear the need to move beyond the traditional rationales for language education in the United States. Our intent is to prioritize the relevance of language education for domestic social justice issues, including equitable access to the benefits it provides in personal development, education, employment and social services.

The Portal

The America’s Languages Portal supports access and equity, with accountability through transparency and documentation. Here programs are presented as models for teachers, administrators, legislators, policy makers and funders seeking to meet the language needs of historically underserved learners, including African American, People of Color, Native American, heritage, immigrant, refugee populations, Latino/Latina/Latinx as well as economically disadvantaged rural and urban communities.

America's Languages Working Group (WG)

The America’s Languages Working Group was convened by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences at the time of the launch of its 2017 Report to develop and coordinate the “America’s Languages Initiative.” Our membership comprises nationally recognized educators as well as leading stakeholders from government, business, nongovernmental organizations representing a broad spectrum of US educational, international, economic and social justice concerns.

Historically Underserved Learners

Our effort here is intended to benefit the nation’s historically underserved learners from the following communities: American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander, heritage, immigrant, refugee, Latino/Latina/Latinx, Deaf, African American, People of Color, high poverty rural and urban)

America’s Languages

We view U.S. society as historically and inherently multilingual, and so we advocate that all of “America’s Languages” be made available to the nation’s learners. By “America’s Languages” we mean the languages of our indigenous peoples, the languages of our colonial period, the languages spoken by the generations of immigrants landing on our shores, and the languages taught in our schools as ‘foreign’, ‘world’, ‘ancient’ or ‘Sign’.

The “America’s Languages Initiative”

The America’s Languages Working Group has adopted the American Academy Report’s terminology and interpreted this statement as its goal of ‘Access and Equity’ for language education in the United States.

 

The America’s Languages Working Group has undertaken a 5-year plan to accomplish this work:

The content of this Portal is the end-goal of this initiative. It is appropriate that the Portal is housed at the Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning (COERLL) at University of Texas at Austin, the mission of which is the broadening of access to language education in the United States. See more.