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Foreign language ‘emergency’ hinders U.S. economy and foreign policy, report warns

The Washington Times – Alex Zietlow

“The inability of too many Americans to learn or speak anything but English constitutes a foreign language “emergency” that could end up harming the economy and impairing U.S. foreign policy, according to a survey. Only 20.7 percent of American adults can speak a foreign language — compared with 66 percent of all European adults who know more than one language, says “America’s Languages,” a report released in March by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The findings were discussed this week at a briefing hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations. U.S. students have no national mandate to study foreign languages, but nearly two dozen European countries require high school students to study languages besides their native tongues for at least a year, according to a 2015 Pew Research report. “The wide disparity between the European or Chinese approach to languages and the U.S. approach suggests that we, as a nation, are lagging in the development of a critical 21st century skill,” the report said, “and that we risk being left out of any conversation that does not take place in English.”(more)

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