On Tuesday, February 28, 2017, President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Jonathan F. Fanton addressed more than 100 Congressional staff members and members of the Academy’s Commission on Language Learning at a press conference to release its final report and recommendations at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Good morning. As the President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the release and first public discussion of our new report, America’s Languages: Investing in Language Learning for the 21st Century.
This is the final publication of the Academy’s Commission on Language Learning. The Academy created this Commission in response to a bipartisan request from members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives: Senators Orrin Hatch, Brian Schatz, Tammy Baldwin, and Mark Kirk; and Representatives David Price, Don Young, Leonard Lance, and Rush Holt.
The title of this report, America’s Languages, refers to an important historic fact about our nation, and one of its great strengths. As the Commission writes in the report’s introduction:
“Linguistic diversity is deeply embedded in our history. The English we speak is only one of many European, Native American, African, and Asian languages that have been spoken on the North American continent. This diversity is a cherished part of our nation’s past, a fact of our present, and a key to our future: a valuable asset in our relations with other nations and cultures and a benefit to our children as they grow up in an interconnected world.”
In addressing the need for enhanced language education, this report brings the American Academy all the way back to one of its original concerns.