This short video says it all.
In our 21st Century DC globalizing world, linguistic and cultural competence are going to be key in accessing jobs.
Research by the Committee on Economic Development and the Conference Board shows that every month over 4,000 jobs are advertised in the DC area that require bilingual skills.
DC has one of the largest achievement gap in the Nation. DC also has one of the starkest poverty divides in the Nation.
Can expanding Language Immersion options throughout the District narrow the opportunity gap? Children of wealthier parents might have Spanish speaking nannies, private language tutors, will go travel with their families, or might even go study abroad. But for most of the other children not having a second language will mean not having the same chances at getting into college or landing a job. Language Immersion programs could be an effective way to increase achievement while narrowing the opportunity gap.
NAEP data shows that African American fourth-graders in the District scored, on average, 62 scale points lower in reading and 55 scale points lower in math than their white classmates. This is the largest achievement gap in the United States and is more than double the national average. The same is true for the achievement gap in eighth grade. Among African American and white eighth-graders in the District, there was a 54-point difference in average reading scores and a 52-point difference in average math scores. These too are the largest achievement gaps in the nation. Based on this disproportionate performance on NAEP, the Committee encourages OSSE to develop interventions that focus on improving educational outcomes for our lowest achieving student populations. (Committee on Education FY2013 Oversight Report)
The US Chamber of Commerce issued Leaders and Laggards – a State-by-State Report Card on K-12 Educational Effectiveness. On page 40 it looks at Foreign Language Critical to National Security and Economic Competitiveness.
A report by think tank Council on Foreign Relations makes an economic case for language immersion programs. “A 2011 survey of more than 100 executives in large US businesses found foreign nationals have an advantage in competing for international jobs. Three-quarters agreed that language skills made it easier for foreign nationals to work in the United States then for US nationals to work overseas, leaving Americans at a significant disadvantage at a time when U.S.-based multinational companies are growing faster abroad then at home.” One of the specific recommendations set out by this report is to “develop and promote a [federally co-funded] foreign language immersion program that is integrated into core content learning and begins at the primary level.”
In 2009 the Center for Applied Linguistics issued a paper on Building the Foreign Language Capacity We Need: Toward a Comprehensive Strategy for a National Language Framework.
The national report Mapping the Nation, in its DC section, states that DC schools cannot yet meet community needs and workforce demands, and attributes this in part to the fact that only 27% of DC’s K-12 students study a foreign language, while 21 of the top 25 industrialized countries begin language instruction in elementary school.
This report also points out that since 2006 there has been a 70% increase in international visitors to DC which contributed 1.7 billion to the local economy.
This infographic shows the number of jobs tied to international trade – 67,000 in DC alone!
[According to the White Paper “Languages for All?” the linguistic skills for global professional practice can come from advanced language programs, like dual language programs, or in-country immersions. ]