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Representatives Young, Price, and Levin Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Increase Language Skills, Boost American International Competitiveness

WASHINGTON, DC (April 30, 2021) – Today, Representatives Don Young (R-AK), David Price (D-NC), and Andy Levin (D-MI) introduced the bipartisan Advancing International and Foreign Language Education Act, which would support world language and international education programs at colleges and universities. These programs educate and equip students and professionals with vital skills to successfully engage with diverse cultures at home and around the globe. Similar legislation has been introduced by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Todd Young (R-IN). 

For decades, Title VI programs have helped our nation develop a strong foundation in international education, research, and world language studies, especially in less-commonly taught languages that hold special strategic interest for our national defense and diplomatic presence across the world. The bill would increase and expand existing foreign language and area studies programs across the country; build international education capacity at minority-serving institutions; and promote opportunities for students and professionals to increase their knowledge of world regions, international business, and over 200 foreign languages at all levels of higher education.  

“We should be doing all we can to ensure that America’s students are equipped to become leaders in business and civic life,” said Representative Don Young. “Therefore, I am proud to introduce the Advancing International and Foreign Language Education Act with my friends, Congressmen David Price and Andy Levin. It is crucially important that the Higher Education Act is modernized to help our students succeed in a globally competitive environment. As Co-Chair of the Congressional America’s Languages Caucus, I will keep working to ensure that the next generation of diplomats, educators, business leaders, and others have the language skills needed to help America keep leading the way.” 

“In today’s global environment, the United States cannot afford to sit on the sidelines while other countries surpass our capabilities in language and cultural awareness,” said Representative David Price. “The failure to make these necessary investments directly undermines our ability to participate in business, diplomacy, foreign policy, and national security.  The COVID-19 pandemic has reiterated that clear and precise communication between nations is essential.  As Co-Chair of the Congressional America’s Languages Caucus, I’m proud to reintroduce the bipartisan Advancing International and Foreign Language Education to modernize Title VI of the Higher Education Act and better prepare our students and future leaders to succeed in an increasingly interconnected world.” 

“I know from first-hand experience that studying foreign cultures, people and languages provides extraordinary benefits and opportunities,” said Representative Andy Levin. “Strengthening the quality of our nation's higher education foreign language programs has a direct positive impact on our country’s ability to thrive in the constantly evolving 21st-century global economy. The Advancing International and Foreign Language Education Act will enable young Americans to cultivate invaluable, life-altering skills and a multicultural consciousness vital for leadership on a range of international issues." 

“At a time when needed most, the Advancing International and Foreign Language Education Act is a leap forward for our nation’s foundational programs in international education, Title VI of the Higher Education Act, and for U.S. international education overall,” said Miriam Kazanjian of the Coalition for International Education. “The legislation addresses our nation’s human resource needs for successful global engagement, national security, and economic competitiveness in the more complex world of the 21st century.  Today, graduates entering a growing number of employment sectors at home and abroad must have professional and technical skills, as well as cultural competence, foreign language ability and international experience. We cannot engage and compete successfully in the world unless we understand it.  The Coalition strongly urges the passage of this important legislation.” 

The Advancing International and Foreign Language Education Act would: 

  • Permanently authorize Higher Education Act-Title VI;  
  • Extend authorization of six currently funded programs: National Resource Centers; Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships; Language Resource Centers; Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language Programs; American Overseas Research Centers; and Centers for International Business Education and Research; 
  • Modernize and align five existing programs into two new programs that address the 21st century needs for educational opportunities that promote language, cultural, and business competencies for students, teachers, and employers; and 
  • Codify the grant process allowing the Secretary of Education to give priority to qualified minority-serving institutions or institutions of higher education that apply for grants and propose significant and sustained collaboration with a minority-serving institution. 

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