California, Texas, Ohio, and Montana – they all have something in common that might not be well known. They all happen to suffer from a national shortage of the multilingual educators they need in order to fulfil their state’s foreign language programs, and ESL (English as a Second Language) educational courses; along with a mutual need for proper funding from the Federal Government.
Different States, Different Language Needs
The second languages that are commonly used and needed in those four states, by comparison, are mostly remarkably different. It might not be surprising to some that California and Texas have a high percentage of Spanish speaking students in their school system.
People might be surprised to learn though, that Ohio has a large French speaking community, and economic connections with France due to its neighboring Canadian border, along with strong trade ties to French Quebec. Montana on the other hand, has a large German population due to an early 19th Century influx of the ethnic German speaking Hutterite community, which was founded by the German immigrant Jakob Hutter.
German speaking Hutterite colonies are spread throughout Montana, South Dakota, and also the Canadian Provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Looking at California’s, Texas’, Ohio’s, and Montana’s cultural statistics, it is also interesting to note that although California and Texas have nearly statistically identical Spanish speaking communities (at a relatively high 38.4%) Ohio and Montana have a comparatively drastically low 2.9% Hispanic community, even though Spanish is still the most common spoken language besides English in all four states.
A Growing State need for Bilingualism
As we have said at the beginning of this article, all of the states have been struggling to find adequate bilingual teaching staff due to the lack of appropriate funding and training programs that are needed to support a multi-lingual curriculum. This is because of extreme cuts in the Federal Education Budget that started back in 2012.
These cuts drastically reduced the funding to the school systems’ language programs, including the ESL courses needed to accommodate non-English speaking students who have recently arrived in the United States. Luckily the current future of foreign language programs looks brighter. The political mindset of using extreme measures to curb America’s debt ceiling that ran rampant in the 2012 dismal economic era has mellowed some in Washington D.C. at the end of 2014. This positive change in political insight is due to a stronger and more robust economy in progress, and low unemployment statistics across the nation.
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The Easing of Anti-Bilingualism in the US
In fact, Edsource.org, an education-based website that highlights strategies for student success, states that the California legislature passed a bill (SB 1174) that could reverse its 1998 moratorium on teaching second languages in California’s public schools, assuming that it is passed by the voters in the 2016 election year. The rewording of California’s 1998 education code sets aside the draconian old Proposition 227 of almost two decades ago. A summary of the wording by the State Legislature to amend Proposition 227 is as follows:
- The public schools of California currently do a poor job of educating immigrant children.
- Parents now have the opportunity to participate in building innovative new programs that will offer pupils greater opportunities to acquire 21st century skills, such as multilingualism.
- Access to language programs will improve their children’s preparation for college and careers, and allow them to be more competitive in a global economy
- A large body of research has demonstrated the cognitive, economic, and long-term academic benefits of multilingualism and multiliteracy.
A Softer Governmental Stance Towards Bilingual School Programs
The California Legislature’s softer stance, and apparent reversal of what is one of the strictest anti-bilingual educational systems in the United States, shows that a new age is dawning in the US system – one that is acknowledging a nationwide need for multilingual teaching. This trend will open up doors for both American societies’ youth, and the nation as a whole by bridging the linguistic gaps in business, hospitality industries, and the industrial sector in the form of better communication skills with both customers and employees alike, and it will also help build better business relationships at home and abroad.
Welcome Changes in Perception
These changes in America’s perceptions of state bilingual language programs, should help fill a two decades old shortage, and also start to prepare our youth’s future for a smaller, more integrated world, due to technology’s constant advancements and the global business community progressively being drawn closer together. The Department of Education funding for international and foreign language studies nationally, is only slightly lower today than it was before the massive cuts of the recent Recession. But the need for teachers with second language abilities has only grown.
Although federal spending for the grants needed to train new multilingual teachers in certification programs is still at a low point, there is a cost effective solution that one can accomplish privately, and at their own pace by using professional second language learning courses that are personalized, socially interactive, and provided at locations in many large cities throughout the United States and Canada. These are the experts at the Listen & Learn language facilities. You can easily Contact Us to get yourself started down the path to learning a second or third language, and put yourself on the course you need to join an ever-growing bilingually oriented world industry.