The America’s Languages Initiative and its Working Group consider language education within the larger content of what we call the “Language Enterprise,” which is reflected in the makeup of the WG and the content of the Portal.
The Language Enterprise comprises six distinct sectors representing the supply and demand market forces for languages in this country: Academe, Government, Business, Native American, Heritage, and NGO. Each sector has a distinct stakeholder role to play in providing the language expertise the country needs and/or being dependent upon that expertise to accomplish its mission.
• Academe: PreK-16 education is responsible for providing language capabilities to the nation, its graduates representing the major component of the nation’s capacity in language. On the other hand, the need for teachers constitutes a significant demand for language proficiency.
• Government: Local, state and federal government recruits graduates of the education system with language skills across a wide range of departments and agencies. However, due to the number, specializations and proficiency of workers needed, departments like Agriculture, Defense, State and the Intelligence Community have been forced to build and rely on their own training programs to meet their critical needs.
• Industry: Responding to the global war for talent, international and transnational companies as well as the language learning and services industry present a growing demand for language capabilities. On the other hand, these companies language services companies (LSCs) play a key role in supplying paid and gratis translation and interpretation as well instruction and practice opportunities.
• Heritage Communities: Heritage communities across the nation constitute this nation’s greatest potential supply of advanced language talent, which they nourish through home language use and community-based language and culture programs. Nevertheless, these communities demand and use social, health and legal services in their own languages, which in turn are supplied by NGOs and companies who often rely on these communities for bilingual employees.
• Native American: Native American Communities support a full range of programs (like Indigenous Language Immersion (ILI)) and venues (like ‘nests’) to meet their demand for language and culture education to preserve their history and traditions as well as to advance their children’s access to the social, educational and employment benefits of language learning and bilingualism. This drive for language education and preservation relies on parents, educators, administrators, and elders from their own communities to supply the teachers they require.
• NGOs: Governments and private organizations here and around the world support our language education and sevice efforts with instruction, teachers, testing, exchanges, study abroad programs as well as translation and interpretation services that are critical to advanced language ability and access. They also hire language and culture talent for social, humanitarian and economic development programs domestically and internationally.
These sectors together represent the Language Enterprise, the broad range of stakeholders in language supply and demand.