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Foreign Language Essay

2087 words - 9 pages

Only 9% of the U.S. population is bilingual, and less than 8% of college students enroll in foreign language courses (Baron). The United States has not put enough emphasis on the importance of foreign language education. People are not aware of the price this country pays due to a lack of language professionals. Its national security and diplomacy are lagging behind. American companies are becoming less prevalent in the international economy. Americans are isolated from culture that thrives in their communities. However, the future generations can be salvaged from this weak state with foreign language education. The teaching of foreign language in American public schools will help shape a ...view middle of the document...

Those documents may have contained information regarding terrorist threats or nuclear war, and they were burned due to a lack of American linguists. Foreign language education is needed for the safety of American citizens.
Not only is the U.S. at risk, but other countries may suffer at our expense. At a conference hosted by Cornell University, Dutch linguist and European Union senator Ludo Beheydt compared European and American diplomacy:
In Europe today, speaking your own language makes communication a bit difficult, but the cost is far less than the cost of waging war because of not having cultural competence, because of not taking in the perspective of the other. (Lowery)
Due to the lack of proper knowledge of foreign language and culture, the U.S. has justified war. This is inexcusable. Foreign language education can build avenues to different cultures. It provides the notion of willingness to understand another, which should be key in diplomacy. Still, with the stability and security if the country at stake, politicians make an issue about the fortification of foreign language in public schools. During his 2008 candidacy, President Obama encouraged parents to help their children become bilingual; he was immediately attacked for presenting the idea (Holt). Education in foreign language is not a political issue; both Democrats and Republicans need to make a composite effort to push legislation towards strengthening it (Holt). As a country with international interests and power, the United States must prioritize foreign languages in public schools.
For American businesses to flourish in an international economy, it needs the next generation of business professionals to be educated in foreign languages. A paradigm shift has occurred from the 20th to 21st century. Being a world power is no longer determined by economic competitiveness (Baron). With a lack of foreign language professionals, the U.S. is not ready to take on the international government. William D. Zollars, chairman and CEO of YRC Worldwide stated that “if we don’t get more involved in becoming global companies, we won’t be a global power” (Baron). Countries like China and India, who have taken the initiative to learn English, are rising in the global economy (Holt). American companies are losing international contracts, some large enough to help jumpstart the U.S. economy (Baron). In a study conducted in 2006 by the Committee for Economic Development found that 30% of U.S. corporations though they have failed in the international market; they lacked the employees skilled in languages (Holt). Donna Kimmel, senior Vice President of global Human Resources of Sensata Technologies illustrated the necessity of foreign language skills in her company:
It is not unusual for one of your employees for one of our engineers in the Netherlands be the lead on a project developed by the U.S. team for a product that will be manufactured in Malaysia. (Baron)
The U.S. must begin to prepare...

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