WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, Congressman Don Young (R-AK) and Congressman David Price (D-NC) introduced the World Language Advancement and Readiness Act, legislation that would establish, improve, and expand innovative world language programs in our nation’s elementary and secondary schools. The future national security and economic well-being of the United States relies on student access and participation in quality, comprehensive foreign language education programs. Multiple GAO reports have highlighted shortfalls in critical language and cultural skills in the U.S. military and intelligence community, underscoring that our nation’s language deficit could threaten our priorities and missions around the globe.
The World Language Advancement and Readiness Act (WLARA) would direct the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of Education, to authorize three-year competitive grants to support local and state education agencies in establishing, improving, or expanding innovative programs in world language learning.
“We should be doing all we can to ensure that America’s students are equipped to become leaders in business and civic life,” said Congressman Don Young. “Therefore, I am proud to introduce the World Language Advancement and Readiness Act with my good friend from across the aisle, Congressman David Price. Our bill helps America keep pace with other developed nations by providing the language education our students need to secure good jobs, achieve success in global marketplaces, and successfully navigate multi-lingual business environments. The legislation also helps build a pipeline for growing experts in languages that are critical to our national defense. I am grateful to Congressman Price for joining me in this important initiative, and I urge my colleagues to help us boost our national defense and global competitiveness by cosponsoring this legislation.”
“The United States can no longer afford to neglect our deficiencies in foreign language and international education, which limit our economic and national security competitiveness,” said Congressman Price. “I’m pleased to introduce this bill with Rep. Young to give schools and students the resources they need to communicate and collaborate on the world stage and prepare the next generation of leaders to solve the international challenges that lie ahead.”
The World Language Advancement and Readiness Act is being introduced with the following original cosponsors: Reps. Moulton (D-MA), Ruppersberger (D-MD), Serrano (D-NY), Cole (R-OK), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Titus (D-NV), Himes (D-CT), Espaillat (D-NY), DeFazio (D-OR), Moore (D-WI), Kind (D-WI), Gallego (D-AZ), Langevin (D-RI), and Lofgren (D-CA). Additionally, WLARA is supported by leading international education and foreign language advocacy organizations, including the Joint National Committee for Languages (JNCL-NCLIS) and the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).
“The World Language Advancement and Readiness Act is an important step towards a real pipeline of bilingual and biliterate young Americans, who will improve our national security and foster economic growth with their language skills,” said Bill Rivers, the Executive Director of Joint National Committee for Languages (JNCL-NCLIS). “The National Council for Languages and International Studies supports this Act wholeheartedly and commends Representatives Price and Young for their commitment to America’s Languages.”
“As an organization dedicated to the improvement and expansion of the teaching and learning of all languages at all levels of instruction, ACTFL is thankful for the leadership of Representatives Price and Young as they seek to increase America’s language capacity now and into the future,” said Howie Berman, Executive Director of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). “Passage of the World Language Advancement and Readiness Act (WLARA) would send a clear message that language education plays a critical role in our country’s economic and national security in an increasingly interdependent world.”
The full text of the World Language Advancement and Readiness Act can be found here.