American Academy of Arts and Sciences Appoints Commission on Languages

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American Councils President, Dr. Dan E. Davidson, Appointed to Commission to Study Language Learning in the U.S.

Access to a language other than English (or to English, for those with a different mother tongue) will affect the next generation’s earning power, personal development, and ability to contribute productively to society as never before.

In an effort to evaluate the state of foreign language learning in the U.S. for the first time in 30 years, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) officially announced the formation of the Commission on Language Learning. The Commission is a direct response to a bipartisan request from the House and Senate last November to gather and analyze research on the benefits of foreign language learning for all age groups—starting at pre-school and extending through secondary, higher education, and lifelong learning levels—in an effort to inform future policy-making decisions around language learning in the United States.

AAAS President Jonathan Fanton observed that, "Language learning should be among our highest educational priorities in the 21st century. By reviewing existing practices and proposing new ideas, the Academy's Commission will advance the conversation about language education, focusing on a body of knowledge and a set of skills that will become more critical as communication between and among cultures increases."

According to a statement released by the Academy, the new Commission is “charged with working with leading scholarly and professional organizations around the U.S. to collect the research that can enlighten a national dialogue around excellence in language learning and international education and research. The Commission also hopes to surface the impact of advanced language proficiency on national security, economic growth and productivity, and cultural diplomacy. Scheduled to meet several times in the next year, the Commission will report back to Congress in the summer of 2016 on the current state of language education in the U.S., the anticipated future need for language in the U.S., and recommendations on how best to meet those needs."

Paul LeClerc, former President and CEO of the New York Public Library, has been appointed as Chair of the Commission. In addition to Dr. Davidson, members of the Commission include Martha Abbott, Executive Director, American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages; Nicholas Dirks, Chancellor, University of California, Berkeley; Karl Eikenberry, former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General, and Director of the U.S.-Asia Security Initiative, Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, Stanford University; Rosemary Feal, Executive Director, Modern Language Association; Carol Gluck, George Sansom Professor of History, Columbia University; Philip Rubin, Senior Advisor to the President, Haskins Laboratories, and former Principal Assistant Director for Science, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Diane Wood, Chief Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit; and Pauline Yu, President, American Council of Learned Societies.

Commenting on the formation of the new Commission, Dr. Davidson noted, “There is growing awareness in the U.S. of the value of language as central to the development of the intercultural competencies essential not only for the social and economic demands of a 21st century citizenry, but for generating respect and appreciation for cultural diversity represented in our own communities across the U.S. Ability in a language other than English (or in English for those with a different mother tongue) will affect the next generation’s earning power, personal and cognitive development, and ability to contribute productively to society as never before.”

For Interview Requests
To request an interview with American Councils President Dr. Dan E. Davidson, contact Christine Vivas: cvivas(at)americancouncils(dot)org or 202-833-7522

About American Councils
American Councils for International Education is a premier, international nonprofit creating educational opportunities that prepare individuals and institutions to succeed in an increasingly interconnected and rapidly changing world. Through academic exchanges, overseas language immersion, data-focused research, and educational development programs, American Councils designs and administers innovative programs that broaden individual perspectives, increase knowledge, and deepen understanding.

For 40 years, American Councils has responded to the needs of the communities where we work with hundreds of robust, international education programs that span over 80 countries, 40 languages, and are represented by over 55,000 alumni worldwide, including government leaders, top international educators, business innovators, public officials, and K-16 students.

Join the conversation on why #languagematters on Twitter @AC_Global.

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Angie Mareino
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