ERIC Number: EJ943993
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Reference Count: N/A
The Real Language Crisis
Berman, Russell A.
Academe, v97 n5 p30-34 Sep-Oct 2011
Those in America are confronting a stark alternative: either open themselves to an appreciation of human plurality and the diversity of cultures around the globe or limit themselves to a narrowly normative culture. Will American schools and colleges provide students with opportunities to learn to understand other voices, or will the educational system succumb to the temptations of isolationism and xenophobia? These stakes are high--too high, evidently, to be left to the faculty. As a sign of the times, it is not generally faculty members who are in charge but rather administrators, who are asking whether the university can afford to teach second languages. In fact, they don't ask, they just declare, "No, we can't." Some college and university leaders do not want to let this economic crisis go to waste, and, pleading resource constraints, they wield the ax. Wherever the ax falls, there is crisis, and it falls with uncanny regularity on the programs that convey cultural difference: languages. At colleges and universities across the country, language programs have been eliminated, cut back, or threatened with reduction. To begin to solve literacy problems, the language crisis--the insufficient access to second-language learning--needs to be addressed. To become competitive with educational systems in Canada and Europe, the United States needs to commit to building language programs that start at an early age, continue through K-12, and lead into advanced study opportunities at the college level. To provide its citizenry with full access to literacy, the United States needs to set a goal of equipping every student with strong skills in a second language. United States cannot reach this goal with just a year or two of instruction. It will require a comprehensive and articulated instructional program that can convey advanced language abilities coupled with significant cultural knowledge: universal bilingualism.
Descriptors: Foreign Countries, Higher Education, Second Language Instruction, College Faculty, College Second Language Programs, Access to Education, Politics of Education, Language Skills, Second Languages, Cultural Differences, Cultural Pluralism, Strategic Planning, Elementary Secondary Education, Postsecondary Education
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada; United States