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This publication was prepared with funding from the National Library of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, under contract no. ED-99-CO-0008. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of NLE, OERI, or ED.
Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, the FBI issued an urgent call for translators in Arabic and Farsi. Since that time, many newspaper and journal articles have bemoaned the critical lack of foreign language proficiency in U.S. intelligence agencies. But the grave lack of language and cultural skills in intelligence and defense is not a new problem.
The Baltimore Sun reported that vital information regarding the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center was in hand well before that attack, but it was backlogged among many other items needing translation. The Sun also reported that "after the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, FBI agents were stumped by a highly unusual local language and never found anyone with proper security clearance who could translate" (Fesperman & Gibson, 2001). Our intelligence and defense needs for qualified translators and language experts have been clear to those in the language field for a long time. In their commentary in the Los Angeles Times, Joy Kreeft Peyton and Donald A. Ranard write, "The fact that the United States' domestic intelligence agency lacked the language resources to understand the intelligence it was gathering probably came as a surprise to most Americans but not to language experts" (Peyton & Ranard, 2001).
Former Senator Paul Simon wrote in an October 23 commentary for The Washington Post, "In every national crisis, our nation has lamented its foreign language shortfalls. But then the crisis goes away, and we return to business as usual. One of the messages of Sept. 11 is that business as usual is no longer an acceptable option" (Simon, 2001).
This sentiment has been echoed numerous times in the press since the terrorist attacks. Marc Fisher of The Washington Post reported that only 8% of U.S. college students study a language, and only 10% of those study a language other than Spanish, French, or German. He writes, "Every time a world crisis develops, we're reduced to scouring the nation for skills" (Fisher, 2001).
Everyone seems to agree on the problem — the United States needs more people in intelligence with advanced foreign language skills. But what is the answer? Should we spend more money and resources to train intelligence employees in the relevant languages? Do we need to improve college foreign language programs or invest in earlier and better foreign language instruction for our K–12 students? Or could the answer be found among America's vast resource of immigrant heritage language speakers?
Since September 11, there have been many calls for education reforms to respond to the U.S. language crisis. Paul Simon (2001) writes that "several long-established foreign language programs are suffering from benign neglect" and calls for an expansion of the National Security Education Program and other government language programs such as the Defense Language Institute and the Foreign Service Institute.
In a New York Times editorial, Dennis Baron calls on the federal government to give financial help to colleges trying to improve their programs in Arabic. "If we really want to understand the words of our enemies, not to mention those of our friends, we need to put more emphasis on learning languages and show more respect for the bilingual people in our schools and communities" (Baron, 2001).
W. Curtis Riddle of The Delaware News Journal also calls for a change in the U.S. intelligence community in regard to language. "There must be a change in culture among the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation and other intelligence gatherers that puts more emphasis on languages" (Riddle, 2001).
Claire Berlinski writes in The Weekly Standard, "In the long term, the structure of foreign language education in the United States must be imagined anew." She says that U.S. intelligence agencies must change their clearance requirements so that foreign-born speakers of languages such as Arabic, Pashto, and Farsi can work as language specialists. "Certainly, the induction of a large cadre of staff agents with connections to hostile countries poses a security threat. But there is no choice: The threat posed by having no speakers of foreign languages in the intelligence community is vastly greater" (Berlinski, 2001).
Geoffrey Nunberg, professor of linguistics at Stanford University, agrees. He cites U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 40,000 Afghans are living in this country, and he urges the United States "to take advantage of the resources that the promise of America has brought to our shores — children who are growing up speaking [critical] languages in cities across the country" (Nunberg, 2001). He also points out that the United States has a wealth of native speakers of Arabic and Pashto and other critical languages, and that the bilingual children of these immigrants "satisfy the citizenship and residency requirements that national security demands of its language experts" (Nunberg, 2001).
Joy Kreeft Peyton and Donald A. Ranard of the Center for Applied Linguistics also believe that the answer to the United States' language problem lies in our immigrant population. "The language expertise that the U.S. needs already exists, or potentially exists, in our schools, in a population of students whose language abilities we have ignored. Immigration has made this nation more diverse linguistically than it has ever been. One in five children enters school speaking a language other than English, including many of the languages of Asia and the Middle East." They argue that schools should help these children maintain and develop their knowledge of their home languages at the same time they are learning English. "If we viewed the languages they know as resources to be developed rather than as obstacles to be overcome … the nation would gain badly needed expertise" (Peyton & Ranard, 2001).
Even before the September 11 attacks, the linguistic deficiencies of U.S. intelligence agencies had been noted. In June 2000, The National Commission on Terrorism called for the CIA to authorize the Foreign Language Executive Committee to develop a larger pool of linguists and an interagency strategy for employing them, including flexible approaches to reduce problems related to handling of classified material (National Commission on Terrorism, 2000).
In a Senate hearing in September 2000, the language deficiencies in U.S. Federal agencies was considered "serious enough to be called a crisis" (State of Foreign Language Capabilities, 2000). Christopher Mellon, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence reported that the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, CA, is only partially meeting the Department of Defense's language needs and that it usually takes 4 years of study and a 6-month immersion program to achieve needed proficiency levels in a language. At the same hearing, the Center for Applied Linguistics called for more and earlier foreign language programs, improved teacher preparation, and incentives to attract and retain qualified language teachers.
However, the findings of this September 2000 hearing went largely unheard — until now. Slowly, changes are being made to remedy the country's severe shortage of proficient language experts. Enrollment in Arabic and Farsi classes in U.S. colleges has already risen since September 11. The Detroit Free Press reports that class sizes in Arabic at Stanford and Princeton have doubled and tripled (Hinds, 2001).
Army recruitment efforts for linguists have also increased since September 11, and the development of standards to help shape distance learning programs is being pushed up to a late 2001 release (Donahue, 2001). These standards for Web-based learning technologies (known as SCORM — Sharable Content Object Reference Model) will enhance the ability of Army personnel to obtain critical language and cross-cultural skills through the Army University Online.
On the federal level, The Foreign Language Assistance Program (FLAP), now part of Title V (Promoting Informed Parents and Innovative Programs) of the new education act, did make the cut in Bush's "No Child Left Behind" legislation. However, the act combines the bilingual and immigrant education programs into one new federal program that will focus on helping limited English proficient students learn English (House-Senate Education Conference Report, 2001). There is no mention of support for students to develop and maintain their home language skills.
On December 5, the Homeland Security Education Act was introduced by Governmental Affairs Committee members Fred Thompson, Daniel Akaka, and Richard Durbin. This act would strengthen support of education programs in math, science, and languages that are deemed important to the United States' national security. Specifically, Title I of the act subsidizes loan interest for students who obtain undergraduate degrees in mathematics, science, or a foreign language. Title III of the act promotes foreign language education by developing grant programs for all educational levels. It also authorizes the National Flagship Language Initiative through the National Foreign Language Center to award grants to universities producing graduates in critical language areas.
Clearly, the recent terrorist attacks have raised awareness of the critical need for personnel with high levels of proficiency in crucial world languages if the United States is to maintain the security of its citizens. Much has been said and written, in the press and elsewhere, about the need to make use of the language skills of the nation's immigrants and their bilingual children and to help native English speakers develop proficiency in other languages. It remains to be seen whether the momentum will last beyond the present crisis and bring long-lasting reforms in the education of our children and in the recruitment and training of our defense and intelligence personnel.
Baron, D. (2001, October 27). America doesn't know what the world is saying. The New York Times.
Berlinski, C. (2001, December 3). English only spoken here. The Weekly Standard.
Donahue, S. (2001, November). War of words. Language Magazine.
Fesperman, D., & Gibson, G. (2001, September 20). Evidence is plentiful, but translators aren't. The Baltimore Sun.
Fisher, M. (2001, November 20). It takes a crisis to raise regard for languages. The Washington Post.
Hinds, J. (2001, November 1). More than words: As interest in studying Arabic increases, so may the chance to spread understanding. The Detroit Free Press.
National Commission on Terrorism. (2000). Countering the changing threat of international terrorism.
Nunberg, G. (2001, December 7). The answer is on the tip of our many tongues. The Washington Post.
Peyton, J. K., & Ranard, D. A. (2001, November 5). We can't squander language skills. Los Angeles Times.
Riddle, W. C. (2001, October 4). Foreign languages are part of defense yet U.S. is lacking. The Delaware News Journal.
Simon, P. (2001, October 23). Beef up the country's foreign language skills. The Washington Post.
The state of foreign language capabilities in national security and the federal government: Hearing before the International Security, Proliferation, and Federal Services Subcommittee of the Committee on Governmental Affairs, United States Senate, 106th Cong., 2nd sess. (2000).
United States Department of Education. (2001, December 12). House-senate education conference report: No child left behind.
After many negotiations, both the House and Senate have approved the final version of President Bush's education bill, No Child Left Behind. Bush is expected to sign the bill into law early in the new year. While the bill authorizes an increase of $8 million in federal funding for education, it also requires states to conduct annual testing in reading and math for all students in the third through eighth grades and places specific requirements on states as far as demonstrating student achievement on state tests. States maintain the authority to choose which test to use, but all tests must be tied to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
No Child Left Behind includes several important provisions for language education, such as a consolidation of the Bilingual and Immigrant Education Programs and a new focus on promoting English language proficiency within 3 years of study. Under Title III of the bill, annual testing in English is required for limited English proficient students who have lived in the United States for at least 3 consecutive years, and states must develop a plan to monitor students' progress in acquiring English. Title III also places a new emphasis on parental options by requiring states to inform parents when their children qualify for special programs for learning English. If more than one program option is available, parents must be given the option to decide in which program they will enroll their child. Additionally, the bill states that the title of the current Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Languages Affairs (OBEMLA) will be changed to the Office of English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement for Limited English Proficient Students.
The Foreign Language Assistance Program (FLAP) is included in the bill as part of Title V, "Promoting Informed Parental Choice and Innovative Programs." FLAP previously was included in Title III and funded by OBEMLA. Although several earlier versions of the education bill called for FLAP to be converted to a system of performance-based state block grants, the final version of the bill does not include this change.
For more information about the No Child Left Behind education bill, visit the legislation section of the National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Eduation's Web site. To read the full text of the bill, visit the Web site of the House Education and Workforce Committee.
In each issue of ERIC/CLL Language Link, we feature one or more of the journals that we abstract and index for Current Index to Journals in Education (CIJE), the ERIC database's monthly index to education-related journals. In this issue, we profile the journal Language, Culture and Curriculum.
Language, Culture and Curriculum provides a forum for the discussion of factors that are relevant to the formulation and implementation of language curricula. Second languages and minority and heritage languages are a special concern.
In 2000, Language, Culture and Curriculum published a special issue, The Arab World: Language and Cultural Issues (Vol. 13, No. 2), which included the following articles, among others:
Articles from other recent issues include Integrating Culture and Language Learning in Institution-Wide Language Programmes (Vol. 13, No. 3), Heritage Language Learning and Ethnic Identity: Korean Americans' Struggle with Language Authorities (Vol. 14, No. 1), and Developing Cross-Cultural Communicative Competence in Pre-service ESL/EFL Teachers: A Critical Perspective (Vol. 14, No. 1).
You can search online for articles from this and other journals indexed in Current Index to Journals in Education.
You can recognize journal abstracts in the ERIC database by their "EJ" prefix followed by a six-digit number. ERIC abstracts can be read at ERIC centers in libraries in the United States and overseas, as well as on the Web.
Subscriptions to the journals indexed in ERIC can be obtained from the publishers. Individual articles from many journals are available from the article reproduction service ingenta: 800-296-2221; www.ingenta.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Print copies of these and other publications may be requested from ERIC/CLL at 1-800-276-9834 or email@example.com.
Heritage languages: A valuable national resource
Friday, April 12
Salt Palace, Ballroom B
Joy Kreeft Peyton
More than 150 languages are spoken in the United States today. Proficiency in these languages (in addition to English) promotes international diplomacy, commerce, and cross-cultural understanding. This session describes the population of heritage language speakers and educational structures, materials, and instructional strategies being developed to promote proficiency in these languages.
ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages & Linguistics Resources
Saturday, April 13
Craig Packard & Bronwyn Coltrane
Learn about the ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics, your primary source of information on languages in education. We will describe our newest publications and our Web site, which includes online resources for TESOL professionals.
Adult ESL in the New
This document is based on the proceedings of a panel discussion held on February 15, 2001, at the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington, DC. Presentations focused on the quality and structures of adult ESL instruction and on efforts to improve programs and teaching strategies. These proceedings offer insights into the major topics discussed: adult ESL learner populations, English literacy/civics projects, adult immigrants in the workforce, instructional strategies for beginning English literacy learners, learning disabilities, and professional development.
Programs for English Language Learners
(ERIC Digest by Eileen McMurrer and Lynda Terrill)
This digest summarizes the history of public libraries and library literacy programs; describes current delivery models; and discusses initiatives in library literacy, profiling one successful public library program that serves adult English language learners and their families.
Beginning to Work
with Adult English Language Learners: Some Considerations
(ERIC Q & A by MaryAnn Florez and Miriam Burt)
This Q & A discusses the issues and topics that teachers who are beginning to work with adult English language learners need to know. Recommendations are made in four key areas: application of principles of adult learning in ESL contexts; second language acquisition processes; culture and working with multicultural groups; and instructional approaches that support language development in adults. It also suggests resources to consult for further information.
Visit the News and Events page of the U.S. Department of Education's Web site for links to Department initiatives and priorities, grant opportunities, publications, and research and statistics.
Weekly ERIC announcements are published in the New from ERIC section of the ERIC systemwide Web site.
Reports on the Quality of Teacher Preparation Released
On November 29, U. S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige announced that the U.S. Department of Education had released data on the quality of teacher preparation from the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and outlying territories. The reports, which are required under Title II of the 1998 Amendments to the Higher Education Act, are now available for the first time on the World Wide Web at www.title2.org and include information reported by the states on a range of topics related to teacher quality. Paige also noted that the Department of Education will conduct an analysis of the data contained in the state reports and submit the findings to Congress by spring 2002.
Resources for Helping Children Cope with the Recent Tragedies
Several ERIC Components have published lists of resources for parents and teachers to help children cope with the recent tragedies at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Each list has a slightly different focus:
Adjunct Clearinghouse for Child Care: Helping
Children Cope with Violence, Terrorism, and Grief.
AskERIC: Teaching Students About Terrorism and Related Resources.
ERIC Clearinghouse for Social Studies/Social Science Education: Resources for Helping Young People Cope With and Discuss the Terrorist Attack on the United States on September 11, 2001.
ERIC Clearinghouse on Counseling and Student Services: Helping Young Children With Traumatic Events.
ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education: Talking
about Terrorism, Tragedy, and Resilience: Resources for Parents, Teachers,
and Family Support Professionals.
Another helpful resource for educators who are interested in the equitable and intelligent treatment of Arab American, other Middle Eastern, and Muslim students during these troubled times is the digest, Arab American Students in Public Schools, from the ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education. Although this March 1999 digest is not directly related to recent incidents of harassment, it addresses ongoing issues of discrimination, prejudice, and tolerance.
ACCESS ERIC Updates the Education Resource Organizations Directory
ACCESS ERIC has verified and updated the contact information for nearly 700 organizations in EROD. Listing over 4,000 organizations, EROD is intended to help you identify and contact organizations that provide information and assistance on a broad range of education-related topics. EROD includes education-related resources at the state level (PTA offices, library agencies, correctional education agencies, etc.), regional level (Eisenhower consortia, regional laboratories, comprehensive assistance centers, etc.), and the national level (information centers, associations, and clearinghouses, etc.). The entry for each organization in EROD is verified and updated at least annually.
ERIC Document Reproduction Service Announces Price Changes
The ERIC Document Reproduction Service (EDRS) announced major price changes for 2002 for all document services. DynEDRS, Inc., operating EDRS on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education (ED), will decrease E*Subscribe electronic collection pricing in most categories. Go to the EDRS Web site and select "Subscription Information" and your institution category to access 2002 pricing.
In a major departure from current practice, EDRS has received approval from the Department of Education to cease charging a per-fiche price for the microfiche collection and will charge a flat rate that includes standard shipping costs. The annual fee in 2002 will be $2,880 for diazo fiche. Standard shipping will also now be included for paper and microfiche on-demand reproductions; electronic document copies are standard priced at $6 each. For more information, visit the EDRS Web site.
The Center for Applied Linguistics invites applications for the 2002 G. Richard Tucker Fellowship. During the period of June 2002 through May 2003, including a four-week residency at CAL in Washington, DC, the Fellow will interact with senior staff members on one of CAL's existing research projects or on a suitable project suggested by the Fellow. The fellowship pays a stipend plus travel expenses. Priority will be given to proposals that focus on language education and testing or on language issues related to minorities in the United States or Canada.
The competition is open to candidates for a master's or doctoral degree in any field that is concerned with the study of language. Minorities are especially encouraged to apply. Applicants must be currently enrolled in a degree program in the United States or Canada and must have completed the equivalent of at least one year of full-time graduate study. Applications must be received on or before April 19, 2002. For further information contact Grace S. Burkart at the Center for Applied Linguistics, 4646 40th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20016. Telephone: (202) 362-0700. Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgUpcoming CAL Conference Presentations
A Framework for Web-Based LCTL Test Delivery will be presented by Paula Winke, Carmen Cross, Helen Carpenter, and Dorry Kenyon at the Distance Learning of the Less-Commonly Taught Languages (LCTLs) Conference, "Innovation in Language Instruction, February 1-3, 2002 in Arlington, VA.
This session will showcase the template design and flowchart for the Arabic and Russian Listening and Reading Webtests, information on the software system Question Mark that is being used to generate the tests and score reports, information on the project's online resources for item development in Arabic and Russian, and a display of the Web page that item writers use for online submissions to the item databank. More information about the conference can be found at: http://www.langinnovate.msu.edu/.
Judy Jameson will be giving a presentation on professional development for bilingual/ESOL paraprofessionals at the TESOL Post-Conference Institute on Saturday, April 13, 2002, 1:00-5:00 p.m., and at an NABE workshop on Friday, March 22, 2002, 2:00-4:00 pm.
Bilingual/ESOL paraprofessionals (teacher assistants) are a valuable and often underutilized resource. This workshop provides a complete, ready-to-use, 18-hour curriculum that prepares paraprofessionals to use simple, flexible strategies to help English language learners develop literacy skills, learn academic content, and internalize learning strategies. Participants explore the curriculum through hands-on, interactive activities.
New Practitioner Brief
The Center for Research on Education, Diversity & Excellence (CREDE) has published Practitioner Brief #3, Some Program Alternatives for English Language Learners (September 2001). To help practitioners determine which educational approaches meet their needs, fulfill their goals, and match their resources, this brief highlights specific features and conditions of four effective programs serving English language learners: 1) newcomer programs, 2) transitional bilingual education, 3) developmental bilingual education, and 4) two-way immersion. Some Program Alternatives for English Language Learners is available online.
The NCLRC Language Resource is an electronic newsletter for foreign language teachers published by the NCLRC. Topics include practical teaching strategies, lesson plans, articles on research and assessment, and opportunities for professional development. To subscribe or to submit lessons or comments, email email@example.com.
in the Foreign Language Classroom - Online
This Web-based tutorial guides teachers in creating and implementing a standards-based, foreign language portfolio assessment system tied to their own curricula. It includes ready-to-use materials such as teacher and student questionnaires, checklists, planning worksheets, sample rating scales, and sample lessons.
Teaching & Learning Strategies, Arabic K–12
NCLRC is currently writing a descriptive report on the best teaching practices for teachers of Arabic K–12. Research is being carried out in the Washington, DC area. For more information or to submit ideas of best teaching and learning practices, contact the NCLRC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2002 NCLRC Summer Institutes for Language Teachers
For further details, visit the NCLRC Web site or email email@example.com.
Learning Strategies Resource Guides for FL Educators
The NCLRC is developing three guides for foreign language instructors: Elementary Immersion, Secondary, and Higher Education. These guides are designed to supplement existing curricula and will include lesson plans and guidelines for learning strategy instruction. The NCLRC values all feedback from the foreign language teaching community, and invites teachers and foreign language professionals to read and evaluate draft versions of the guides. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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