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Academics Talk With Government Representatives About Creating a National Language Policy [The Chronicle of Higher Education]

April 14, 2008

By Paula Wasley, The Chronicle of Higher Education

A professor of German took one more step in bringing experts together to work on developing a national language policy on Wednesday.

An invitation-only conference held at Georgetown University here drew representatives from academe, the federal government, and nongovernmental agencies who share concerns that the country needs to improve its linguistic resources.

The meeting was the fruit of a nearly yearlong effort by Heidi Byrnes, a German professor at Georgetown and editor of the Perspectives column in The Modern Language Journal.

The conference accomplished more than what participants agreed was a much-needed dialogue about how the country can build its linguistic competencies to meet its military, intelligence, diplomatic, and economic needs. It also resulted in the formation of a panel that has been charged with developing a national foreign-language-policy platform and creating a roundtable at the National Academies to discuss foreign-language policy.

“Recent societal and sociopolitical developments and specific decisions on the part of various governmental agencies have laid bare the fact that the foreign-language field … has very little voice in developing and implementing a comprehensive strategic plan necessary to create a language and area-studies-competent citizen for the 21st century,” said Ms. Byrnes. (Click here to read the rest of the story. Subscription only.)

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