Foreign Language Education

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As the world becomes increasingly interconnected through the processes of globalization, proficiency in more than one language is critical for business, trade, diplomacy, and to promote international cooperation, mutual understanding, and respect. For students, learning more than one language can that can enrich their academic and life experiences and open doors to opportunities Thus, it is important to become proficient in other languages. For individuals, research points to the strong cognitive benefits of language learning while knowledge of more than one language provides a strong advantage for career advancement.

The need for skilled speakers of languages other than English has been studied and discussed for more than fifty years at various levels of government and the private sector. Despite these concerns, foreign language offerings in schools have decreased and student enrollment in foreign languages has declined. This does not bode well for the ability of the K-12 system to meet the foreign language proficiency needs of the U.S. On the other hand, in schools where foreign languages are taught, more schools teach Arabic and Chinese than before, reflecting the security and economic priorities of the country. 

Despite the one in five Americans who report speaking a language other than English at home, vital heritage language resources are being underutilized or lost. CAL continues to make promoting a multilingual U.S. society the focus of many of our efforts, working to support effective language programs through research and program evaluation, information dissemination and resource sharing. Through our work in foreign and dual language education and our support of community and language programs, we are committed to making resources available to promote language learning and cultural understanding.

Projects

National K-12 Foreign Language Survey

CAL conducted a national survey of foreign language instruction in public and private elementary and secondary schools to provide an updated national and regional portrait of foreign language instruction in the United States.

STARTALK

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STARTALK was created in 2006 to provide learning opportunities in the critical languages for students (K-16) and professional development for teachers of the critical languages, mainly through programs offered during the summer.

Resources

Computerized Oral Proficiency Instrument (COPI)

Computerized Oral Proficiency Instrument (COPI)

Computerized Oral Proficiency Instrument (COPI)

The COPI is a comprehensive oral proficiency assessment that provides reliable, valid results to help inform instruction and gauge student progress.  The COPI is available in Mandarin Chinese, Modern Standard Arabic, and Spanish.

Foreign Language Teaching in U.S. Schools: Results of a National Survey

Foreign Language Teaching in U.S. Schools: Results of a National Survey

CAL surveyed public and private elementary and secondary schools across the country to identify current patterns and shifts over time in foreign language education. This report provides detailed information about the survey results and includes recommendations for increasing language capacity in the United States.

Services

Evaluation and Program Design Services

CAL offers evaluation and program design services to schools, districts, and other institutions that are planning or implementing programs for language learners.

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News & Events

Parents Want Elementary Pupils to Learn Foreign Languages - but Where?

October 31, 2014

Research shows that early language learning results in better pronunciation and higher levels of proficiency, as well as cognitive benefits associated with being bilingual. However, the majority of foreign language programs in the United States don’t start until middle school or even high school.