Academic journal article Foreign Language Annals

Get Ready for the Year of Languages! Celebrating Our International Spirit

Academic journal article Foreign Language Annals

Get Ready for the Year of Languages! Celebrating Our International Spirit

Article excerpt

The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) is busily preparing for the upcoming major celebration of 2005 as the Year of Languages (YOL).

ACTFL and its affiliate organizations-along with U.S. Education Department officials, government leaders at the federal, state and local levels, School administrations, and classroom teachers-will help build greater public awareness of other languages and cultures through the YOL campaign.

Celebrations will be taking place in a variety of settings, including elementary and secondary schools and postsecondary institutions. Special community events and other programs will focus on the increasing importance of foreign language learning in American education and American life.

The effort will reach out to all Americans-but will particularly target students and parents to help them understand that language learning is a path to a successful future for themselves and for our nation.

Why Year of Languages?

The need for an ambitious effort to promote the value of language learning is clear. Such learning offers social, cultural, academic, and workplace benefits that will serve students all their lives. Americans live and compete in a world of diverse cultures and races, a world where competence in more than one language is an essential part of communication and understanding.

Furthermore, the disciplines learned during the study of foreign languages and literature endow students with cognitive, analytical, and communication skills that carry over into many other areas of their academic studies and future success.

The Year of Languages 2005 in the United States is based on a very successful campaign that took place in Europe in 2001. This joint Council of Europe and European Commission initiative to promote multilingualism and greater languages capability was celebrated in 45 countries.

The effort in the U.S. was officially kicked off at the ACTFL Annual Meeting last November. At that time, secretary of Education Rod Paige announced that he "strongly supported" the YOL campaign for 2005. …

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