A 21st century’s world-ready education should prepare American students to function in today’s interconnected Global Village. Consequently, global education should include, inter alia, inter-cultural communication skills. Unarguably, such skills are also acquired and strengthened through multilingualism. Unfortunately, monolingualism is as American as apple-pie. The World Language Divide – or the gap between multilinguals and monolinguals – is a phenomenon that negatively and tragically affects the United States of America more than any industrialized democracy. In the post-Cold War and post-September 11th era, the U.S. chronic monolingualism raises three concerns. First, it reminds us that the actual status of English as the de facto global lingua franca has further reinforced Americans’ negative attitude toward world languages. Second, it reveals shortcomings in the U.S. education system. Third, it undermines the U.S. national interest, public diplomacy, and global leadership. To address these concerns, it is necessary to come up with new and creative world language divide initiatives. Since the U.S. education system has been blamed for the world language skills shortcomings, there should also be other alternatives to the traditional ways of teaching world languages. Polyglots in Action for Diversity, Inc. intends to be one of such alternatives, which, like many others, should be supported through public and private resources. It is also necessary to initiate a National Dialogue on the World Language Divide and this paper is part of that dialogue. This paper contains four main sections. The first section entitled, “Needs and Problems,” deals with the state of world language skills shortages in the USA. The second section entitled, “The Blame Game” identifies the U.S. education system as the main culprit for the crisis. The third section entitled, “Solutions” suggest several world language divide initiatives. The fourth section or the conclusion consists of a series of facts about world language skills.
|Keywords:||Education, Global, Interest, Languages, Security|
Director, Center for Global Studies, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD, USA
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