Dr. Vivian Bosque
Florida Foreign Language Association
2615 Silver River Trail
Orlando, FL 32828
Dear Dr. Bosque,
On behalf of the 106 members of the Joint National Committee for Languages and the National Council for Languages and International Studies (JNCL-NCLIS), I write today to express our support for the Miami Dade County Community Forum on Bilingualism and Biliteracy. The implementation and advancement of sustainable programming in world languages begins at the local and state levels, and this Forum is a solid example of the kind of conversations that bring about these changes.
Languages are an essential component of 21st century skills. They are vital to global security, and increasingly important to our economic growth, as the language industry – itself a sector worth $15b annually that employs more than 200,000 Americans – leverages more than $1.5T in US trade. In terms of job growth, a recent survey by Michigan State University and the National Council for Languages and International Studies showed that 11% of American mid- and large-size companies are seeking college graduates with language skills, and that 14% have lost business due to a lack of these skills. These graduates are needed to work in increasingly global and diverse workplaces and to develop products and services for multilingual and multicultural markets here and abroad. More importantly, using a second language on at least a weekly basis correlates with a broad range of cognitive and educational advantages, such as adaptability, “soft skills,” and other traits that American companies find highly desirable in their workforces.
Miami-Dade County is in a unique location to integrate languages more widely into k-12 educational programming. With a Hispanic population over 60% as well as representation from numerous other world languages, Miami-Dade County is better-positioned to embrace dual-language immersion than many other places in the U.S. Dual-language immersion confers immense cognitive, educational and social benefits on the individual and has even been shown to close achievement gaps for English Language Learners. This education model has an equally positive impact on native English speakers.
By holding discussions at the local level such as this Forum, residents of Miami-Dade County are ensuring the best possible means of encouraging bilingualism and biliteracy in the community. JNCL-NCLIS is proud to lend its voice in support and will happily answer any questions.
With best wishes,
William Rivers, Ph.D.