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News Archive - 2009

What Kinds of Schools Are Most Likely to Teach Foreign Languages?
Education Week

December 10, 2009

Private elementary schools are more than three times more likely than public elementary schools to offer students foreign-language classes, according to a national survey released recently by the Center for Applied Linguistics.

Read the rest of the article online.


Forsa-Arabic for Opportunity — draws students to learn the language
Medill Reports

November 12, 2009

Mayor Daley and Chicago Public Schools officials announced plans earlier this week to expand the CPS Arabic language program using an $888,000 U.S. Department of Education grant. The program was launched three years ago and has served 2,000 CPS students in 10 schools citywide. Under the grant, three additional schools will offer Arabic language courses. This articles also references CAL’s national survey of K-12 foreign language education.

Read the rest of the article online.


Learning the Language (blog)
Education Week
October 13, 2009
Newcomer Centers Offer Much More Than Beginning English
Increasingly, school newcomer centers, which educate ELLs who have just arrived in the country, are teaching academic content along with English skills, according to a survey conducted by Deborah J. Short, a senior research associate at the Center for Applied Linguistics. The 63 newcomer centers for middle or high school students that have completed CAL's survey are tending to provide "more than just ESL 1," said Short in a presentation of her findings at a conference this month hosted by the National Center for Research on the Educational Achievement and Teaching of English-Language Learners, or CREATE. For example, Short said, many of the centers teach pre-algebra courses.

Read the rest of the entry online.


Learning the Language (blog)
Education Week
September 30, 2009
Survey Asks Districts About Plans to Use Stimulus Funds for ELLs
A working group of experts on policy for English-language learners is conducting a survey to find out how states and school districts plan to use stimulus funds for the education of ELLs, and what obstacles might prevent them from doing so.

Diane August, a senior research scientist at the Washington-based Center for Applied Linguistics, said that the working group will soon unveil a Web site about using funds of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for English-language learners. Findings from the survey will be posted on that Web site before the end of the calendar year.

Read the rest of the entry online.


San Francisco Chronicle (
September 26, 2009
West Portal immersion program still thriving
[West Portal]'s Chinese immersion program has spawned similar efforts throughout the nation, with West Portal teachers traveling the country to train those starting out. About two to three dozen Chinese immersion programs now exist in the United States in both public and private schools. Some are dual-immersion programs, which include students who speak English, Chinese or both. Those allow students to help each other. Other immersion programs enroll only English speakers.

"Chinese has become a global language," said Shuhan Wang, deputy director of the University of Maryland Foreign Language Center, pointing out there are more Chinese native speakers in the world than any other language.

The West Portal school community will officially celebrate the program's 25th anniversary next month.

The decision in San Francisco to teach children Chinese by immersing them in the language now seems prescient given the current economic and global importance of China. But back then it was a big gamble even with the city's large Chinese immigrant population.

"Some people were threatened by the idea and some people didn't understand it," said Dan Kelly, whose eldest son attended the first Cantonese kindergarten in 1984. "It was something you heard frequently: 'Why Chinese? Why are you doing that? Kids need to learn English.' "

The program started with a group of parents looking for a way to preserve their heritage and to offer options to families who might otherwise think about moving to schools in the suburbs.

Read the rest of the article online.


Cincinnati Enquirer
September 24, 2009
Can you read this?: US suffers foreign language weakness
From 1960 to 2002 - as U.S. companies drastically expanded their global reach - the number of U.S. college students taking a foreign language dropped by 50 percent. Today, only 8 percent study a second language, and only 1 percent major in one. Yet from 2007 to 2008, the number of foreign students studying in the U.S. grew by 7 percent and the number enrolled in intensive English programs jumped by 24 percent.

American schools have been losing the language race for decades - a loss that translates into ever greater economic disadvantages for U.S. businesses and national security concerns. Each year, U.S. companies lose an estimated $2 billion because of employees' inadequate language skills and poor cultural competence, according to the Committee for Economic Development.

"It's always been a good thing to know more about the world and to speak another language, but now it's become an issue of our economic security, our national security and our public diplomacy," says Charles Kolb, president of the Committee for Economic Development in Washington, D.C. "Speaking a second language gives our young people an edge in terms of the competition we're facing around the globe. Believe me, you win kudos if you're negotiating in another country and you're fluent in that language."

Read the rest of the article online.


Converge Magazine
September 21, 2009
Hands-On Programs Promote Multilingualism
The brick building at the heart of a village town in Great Barrington, Mass., had been abandoned for months. It was once an elementary school until it was shut down six years ago due to funding cuts. It housed administrative offices for some time, but for nearly a year, the building has just been sitting there — a vacant, aging waste of space.

That is, until this summer.

A month ago, an office suite and a first-floor classroom of the former Housatonic Elementary School building became the new home to a pilot program that focuses on literacy and tolerance. In the program, called Berkshire Resources for the Integration of Diverse Groups and Education (BRIDGE), children ages 2 to 11 and their families participate in hands-on activities while teacher volunteers give instructions in Spanish and English.

Read the rest of the article online. (blog)
September 18, 2009
New Addition to American Memory Project: American English Dialect Recordings, Over 100 Hours of Recordings
The Center for Applied Linguistics Collection contains 118 hours of recordings documenting North American English dialects. The recordings include speech samples, linguistic interviews, oral histories, conversations, and excerpts from public speeches.

Read the rest of the article online.


Education Week
September 8, 2009
ELL Graduation Rates Often a Mystery
Across the country, high school graduation rates are bemoaned with regularity. But many states and districts aren’t even tracking the rate for the fastest-growing population of students, or if they are, they aren’t telling the public how many English-language learners are leaving school with a diploma.

The No Child Left Behind Act was supposed to rectify that. Now, nearly eight years after its passage, 13 states and numerous districts still don’t report that information to the U.S. Department of Education. And some of those that do are offering numbers that may not be entirely accurate.

"The previous administration didn’t do enough to get absolute clarity from states about when they would be able to report their graduation rates for English-language learners," said Daria Hall, the director of K-12 policy development for the Education Trust, a Washington-based group that advocates high academic standards, especially for disadvantaged students. "There has been this notion of, 'We're working on it. We're working on it,' " she said.

Read the rest of the article online.
August 25, 2009
National Capital Language Resource Center Receives Grant for South Asian Languages K-12 Research Study
The National Capital Language Resource Center at The George Washington University's Graduate School of Education and Human Development has been awarded a three-year International Research and Studies grant from the U.S. Department of Education to begin Sept. 1, 2009. The South Asian Languages K-12 Research Study, to be called DesiLearn, will connect the diverse language communities of South Asia through information gained in this research. The George Washington University - in collaboration with The Alliance for the Advancement of Heritage Languages, the South Asian Language Resource Center and an advisory board of scholars, administrators and national South Asian heritage community leaders - will develop and conduct the study to gather comprehensive data on South Asian language programs, both credit and non-credit bearing, from communities across the U.S.

Read the rest of the article online.

WCCO.COM (Minneapolis, MN)
July 22, 2009
Babies Have Built-In Advantage For 2nd Language
This article references CAL's Foreign Language Survey.

Read the rest of the article online. (Arlington, VA)
July 20, 2009
Unraveling how children become bilingual so easily
The best time to learn a foreign language: Between birth and age 7. Missed that window?

New research is showing just how children's brains can become bilingual so easily, findings that scientists hope eventually could help the rest of us learn a new language a bit easier.

"We think the magic that kids apply to this learning situation, some of the principles, can be imported into learning programs for adults," says Dr. Patricia Kuhl of the University of Washington, who is part of an international team now trying to turn those lessons into more teachable technology.

Read the rest of the article online.


The Triangle.Org (Drexel University, PA)
July 17, 2009
Foreign language is key to success (Op-Ed)
I would like to blame geographic isolation for the fact that most U.S. citizens that are not of immigrant households do not speak any languages other than English. Fine, you can't hone your German or your French, we get it - it's all an ocean away. Regardless, just to the south of us Spanish, and not English is what is spoken. According to a report conducted by the Center for Applied Linguistics, Foreign Language Teaching: "What the United States Can Learn from Other Countries," the U.S. lags in foreign language proficiency because linguistic education is introduced too late, and our teaching force is not properly equipped. These conclusions should not come as a surprise. We can all recollect the nightmare and confusion of foreign language classes, so it's no wonder why few bother to pursue the languages in which they once held interest. So, what do we lose from avoiding learning a foreign language?

Read the rest of the op-ed online.


Education Week (
June 12, 2009
Learning the Language (blog)
Trend Watch: Response to Intervention and ELLs
Two trends in professional development that are sweeping the country—Response to Intervention, or RTI, and the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol, or SIOP—will converge during a summer institute in Long Beach, Calif. The workshop is a sign that how to carry out Response to Intervention, an approach in which educators try various interventions before determining if students need to be evaluated for special education, for ELLs is a new hot topic on the horizon.

Jana Echevarria, a special education professor at California State University, Long Beach, and MaryEllen Vogt, an associate professor of education at the same university, are offering the workshop August 13-14 in Long Beach, California.

While these women have expertise in special education and reading, they are better known across the country for having created SIOP, along with Deborah Short, a senior research associate at the Center for Applied Linguistics. That's a set of 30 strategies based on research that regular classroom teachers can use to teach English-language learners.

Read the rest of the article online.


Wicked Local (Framingham, MA)
June 1, 2009
Despite budget cuts, dual language program soldiers on

Within Framingham's dual immersion program, more than 600 students across the district can share their thoughts, whether they're in the classroom or sitting at the lunchroom table.

Educators hope to "make students proud and pleased to be bilingual," said Sara Hamerla, a Fuller Middle School eighth-grade teacher who is in charge of that building's English as a second language and bilingual education programs.

Before her current job, she spent five years working in the district's dual immersion program, and she serves on the board for the Massachusetts Association of Teachers of Speakers of Other Languages.

"I think in my time in the dual language (program), the teachers really emphasize the benefits of bilingualism," Hamerla said.

Read the rest of the article online.


Tampa Bay Online
May 18, 2009
Tampa Bay area schools a tapestry of languages

Students in Hillsborough schools spoke more than 150 foreign languages at home when their parents enrolled them.

The languages range from Abkhazian, spoken in the region between Russia and the Black Sea, to Zulu, an official language of South Africa. Nearly 31,000 students spoke Spanish at home; six of the 20 most commonly spoken languages are from India.

A district tally shows nearly every school has students in the cultural mix. Most have students who speak an array of languages - many a dozen or more. Students at King High and Tampa Palms Elementary speak more than three dozen languages.

The numbers reflect a national trend.

The focus has shifted from immigrants as a problem to immigrants as a resource, said Joy Kreeft Peyton, vice president of the Washington-based Center for Applied Linguistics.

Read the rest of the article online. (Memphis, TN)
April 24, 2009
Treadwell Elementary students prepare for dual-language immersion

In the kindergarten wing of Treadwell Elementary, already a melting pot of North Memphis dialect, principal Renita Perry is turning up the volume.

In the fall, she will offer the first two-way language immersion optional program in Memphis City Schools. Half of the 5- and 6-year-old student body will be Spanish speakers, half will be English.

On the first day of class, 90 percent of what the teacher says will be in Spanish, meaning only half the class will be learning to read, do math and tie their shoes in their native language.

By the time they are second-graders, the ratio of Spanish to English will be about 70/30.

"My Hispanic parents are thrilled about the opportunity," said Perry, who is fluent in Spanish and a onetime resident of Japan and Morocco. "If you think about it, their expectation is that their children would be taught in English, which makes school harder."

Read the rest of the article online.


The Las Vegas Sun
April 23, 2009
Stamping out terrorist threats
One of the national security weaknesses exposed by the 9/11 attacks was the lack of Arab-speaking agents in the CIA and in other U.S. intelligence-gathering agencies.

The gathering of information on foreign-based terrorists and their organizations would seem to be an impossible task without the mastery of foreign language skills necessary to interpret the verbal and written material gathered in the course of an investigation.

One would think the CIA — in the nearly eight years since the terrorist attacks — would have become proficient in that skill set. In fact, the number of CIA employees who speak more than one language has risen by 70 percent over the past five years.

But USA Today reported Monday that even with that increase, only 28 percent of the agency’s clandestine operations employees and only 18 percent of its analysts speak a foreign language. The overall number of CIA employees proficient in at least a second language is a pathetic 13 percent.

Read the rest of the article online.


The Capital Times (Madison, WI)
April 15, 2009
Despite initial low test scores, charter school Nuestro Mundo gains fans
Nuestro Mundo ("Our World") is a public K-5 charter school that opened in 2004 inside Allis Elementary School, 4201 Buckeye Road, on Madison's east side. It has been a huge success in many ways.

In February, the Madison School Board renewed Nuestro Mundo's charter, and in March, the board voted unanimously to go ahead with planning a similar dual-language immersion program at east side Sennett Middle School starting in September 2010, just in time for the first Nuestro Mundo students graduating from fifth grade.

There is a waiting list to get into Nuestro Mundo, which now has 14 teachers and 218 students. Parents of children in the school praise it for giving their children an early start in becoming bilingual, something they say is essential in a global economy and 21st century America.

But some questions have surfaced now that the school has children old enough to take state standardized tests.

Read the rest of the article online. (Baton Rouge, LA)
April 3, 2009
Our Views: Language Gap is Widening
Parlez-vous anything?

In today’s globalized economy, American workers are competing not just with employees of companies in other states, but with workers in other countries throughout the world.

And more and more often, the Americans will require translators.

A new study suggests the future capacity of Americans to interact with the world will diminish as foreign language instruction declines in schools.

Elementary school classrooms teaching foreign languages are declining, according to a forthcoming study by the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington, D.C.

About one in four elementary schools offered foreign languages in 2008.

Read the rest of the article online.


Education Week (
March 19, 2009
Learning the Language (blog)
How Can Stimulus Funds Be Used for ELLs? Let's Count the Ways
A group of researchers who are experts on English-language learners and well-respected in the education field are poised to release recommendations this week on how states and school districts should use stimulus funds to improve education for English-language learners.

The group of 14 researchers drew up the recommendations because they didn't want ELLs to lose out on the benefits of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, said Diane August, a senior research scientist at the Center for Applied Linguistics, who helped convene the group and sent me the document. "We wanted to provide some input. We were quite disappointed there was nothing in the bill that specifically addresses the needs of ELLs," she told me in a phone interview. Yet they saw the potential for the act to really benefit ELLs, she added.

Read the rest of the article online.


Education Week (
March 19, 2009
Learning the Language (blog)
Increased Arrivals of Iraqi Refugees to the United States
The United States received 13,823 refugees from Iraq in fiscal 2008, up from 1,608 the previous year, according to the Migration Policy Institute, which has gathered information about Iraqi immigrants in this country. The United States has also authorized 5,000 special immigrant visas each year through 2012 for Iraqis who were U.S. government contractors in Iraq for a minimum of one year since the start of the war.

The arrival of thousands of Iraqi refugees means that some of you are receiving Iraqi children in your classrooms for English-language learners. For some background information on them, see Refugees from Iraq, a publication of the Center for Applied Linguistics.

Read the rest of the article online.


Education Week (
March 11, 2009
Maryland Tackles Ways to Tap Into 'Heritage' Languages
While other states have enacted policies to discourage students from building on their native-language skills, Maryland has completed an audit of the opportunities the state has to leverage the "heritage language" skills of its residents.

Heritage speakers have been exposed to or speak a language other than English at home.

The Task Force for the Preservation of Heritage Language Skills, which was established by the Maryland General Assembly last year, presented a report to Gov. Martin O’Malley and the legislature Feb. 26 with recommendations for how the state can better support the use of native languages other than English.

Read the rest of the article online.
(Subscription required to view full article.)


Education Week (
March 2, 2009
Elementary Foreign-Language Instruction on Descent
The United States lost ground over the past decade in the proportion of elementary schools that offer foreign-language lessons, following a decade during which those schools had increasingly launched such programs. And the decline is likely to continue as a number of districts consider cutting back their foreign-language programs at all levels because of the recession.

Robert Slater, the director of the National Security Education Program, which is housed in the U.S. Department of Defense, said it was troubling that elementary school foreign-language offerings are slipping nationwide, "because children learn second and third languages easier at that level."

Read the rest of the article online.
(Subscription required to view full article.)


The Clarksdale Press Register (Clarksdale, MS)
February 27, 2009
Magent School Update
The last school, but certainly not the least, to be featured in our magnet school series is the Language Immersion School at Myrtle Hall 4. Language immersion is not a new concept in education.  In fact, researchers at the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) note on their website,, that language immersion programs were first introduced in this country as far back as 1971.

Today, over thirty-three states offer language immersion programs. CAL proposes that language immersion is a highly effective manner in which to teach a second language to children. Toya Matthews, principal of Myrtle Hall 4, notes that "The general rule for learning a new language seems to be 'the earlier, the better'. Children are sponges at earlier ages and they seem to simply absorb an incredible amount of information at a fairly quick pace."

Read the rest of the article online.


Washington Post
February 16, 2009
Early Launch for Language
Can kids learn anything if they are exposed to a subject for only half an hour a week, with no homework?

When it comes to learning another language, educators say yes.

"The kids getting it for 30 minutes won't become fluent, but that's not the point of those programs," said Julie Sugarman, research associate at the nonprofit Center for Applied Linguistics in the District. "It's to give them exposure to the language. Just because kids aren't able to do calculus in sixth grade doesn't mean we shouldn't teach math in elementary school."

Foreign language instruction is considered more important than ever as the nation's demographics and national security issues change and the world's economies become intertwined.

Read the rest of the article online.

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