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U.S. Falling Behind in Language Education

source:未知 Editor:supermanTime:2015-05-30 12:30

Since 2009, language education in the U.S. has consistently lost ground in the battle for relevance and funding. The shift in national budget priorities has resulted in some language programs being discontinued and others being scaled back. At the same time, the number of college students enrolling in language courses has steadily declined. This loss in enrollments has been compounded by the problem of students studying the wrong languages. For example, in 2013 approximately 198,000 U.S. college students were enrolled in French language courses, while only 64 students were studying Bengali. The reality is that 193 million people around the world speak Bengali, while fewer than 75 million speak French. Language education is also fighting the commonly held belief that only those with a natural gift for languages can become proficient. Richard Brecht, who oversees the University of Maryland's Center for Advanced Study of Language, says, "It isn't that people don't think language education is important. It's that they don't think it's possible." Not everyone agrees that it's important. Educators argue amongst themselves about the value of learning a language, especially when math and science programs are competing for the same limited funding. And those who do value language education disagree about which languages should be studied. In the end, advocates for language education say this is not one problem, but many. They add there is no simple solution.

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