Friday, January 06, 2006

New Initiative: Teach and Learn Foreign Languages

President Bush was speaking to a group of University Presidents in attendance of an International Educator's Conference that was co-sponsored by the State and Education Department. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld were in attendance as well. The object of the gathering was to promote President Bush' new initiative: National Security Language Initiative.

This will help in several ways. When Americans learn Arabic, Farsi, Pashtun, Chinese, Russian, Hindu, and other critical-need languages and cultures, we will be able to allow other peoples to see we actually do care about them by taking the time to learn about them. It will also help our people, be they Military, Diplomats, CIA, etc., to appreciate others sensitivities. (Don't laugh. It makes sense.)

The initiative, according to documents explaining the program, has three main goals:
  • Expand the number of Americans mastering critical-need languages and start teaching them at a younger age.
  • Increase the number of advanced-level speakers of foreign languages, with an emphasis on critical-need languages.
  • Increase the number of foreign language teachers and necessary resources.
  • Most of the cabinets will be participating in this new program. They will be asking for $750 million over the next 5 years to higher people with those skills along with $25 million for more personnel to be used by President Bush for the Initiative.
    "We need a stronger capacity to understand and work with the cultures and peoples of other nations," he said. "The central part of that capacity is linguistic facility. "
    This money will tied with the ROTC in the Universities. It will be used to assist teachers in the goals of learning of teaching critically needed language skills.

    As it stands, a total of 1,322 U. S. colleges and universities offer primary or associated ROTC programs. Hmm. I am quite sure there are many more colleges than that!

    "Another related initiative, Chu said, involves establishing a Civilian Language Reserve Corps that will seek to add 1,000 new linguists over the next few years to provide a surge capacity to meet crucial military language skill needs."

    Referencing findings taken from a recent DoD-sponsored national language conference, David S. C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said younger people appear to have an easier time learning new languages than adults. "If you start when you're five, you have a great advantage in facility, in accent, in ease with which (a new language) is acquired," Chu said.

    NOTE: View the original version of this web page on DefenseLINK, the official website of the U. S. Department of Defense.

    Visit the Defense Department's Web site for the latest news and information about America's response to the war against terrorism at "Defend America".

    Hat tip to Military News

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