Georgia Tech’s School of Modern Languages and the Ivan Allen College, in partnership with Emory University, Georgia State University, and Agnes Scott College, recently hosted the 2017 Association of Departments of Foreign Languages (ADFL) Summer Seminar. The focus of the seminar was building and sustaining language programs, a topic that is particularly relevant in light of the recent release of America’s Languages: Investing in Language Education for the 21st Century, a congressionally-commissioned bipartisan report by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
The report argues that although “English continues to be the lingua franca for world trade and diplomacy, there is an emerging consensus among leaders in business and politics, teachers, scientists, and community members that proficiency in English is not sufficient to meet the nation’s needs in a shrinking world.”
Therefore, the authors articulate a national strategy to improve access to language education and to recognize language education as a national need. The report emphasizes the need for more language teachers across the nation, the opportunities to develop public-private partnerships to help build language programs, and the importance of international study and cultural immersion in language education.
During the ADFL seminar, two of the report’s architects — Martha Abbott, executive director for the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), and Rosemary Feal, executive director of the Modern Language Association (MLA) — led a discussion on the report’s findings. The findings concluded that language proficiency is “critical to success in business, research, and international relations,” and “the study of a second language has been linked to improved learning outcomes in other subjects.” The implications of these findings were discussed in many of the seminar’s presentations and discussion groups.
Anna Westerstahl Stenport, Chair of the School of Modern Languages, said, “Hosting the ADFL seminar — a prime leadership development and national advocacy group for language learning and international engagements — provides a great opportunity for the School of Modern Languages to showcase our innovative academic programming and research strengths in intercultural studies and language learning.”
Stenport added, “the School is eager to advance the national strategy put forth in the report by continuing to strengthen our innovative Language for Business and Technology (LBAT) summer study abroad programs, pushing students towards professional language proficiency through courses that connect language and technology, and by developing increased partnerships throughout the region and internationally in service of enhanced language learning.”