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Background Knowledge and Where to Get It

Stephen Krashen argues that those who read more know more Wexler (2023) has pointed out that a reader’s background knowledge is a significant predictor...
HomeLanguage NewsnewsSurvey of World Languages in Congress

Survey of World Languages in Congress

89144193In an effort to create a broad picture of second language capabilities among Americans, the National Council for Languages and International Studies (NCLIS) ( surveyed members of Congress to find out how many of them speak a language other than English. NCLIS staff contacted each of the 540 Senators’, Representatives’, and Delegates’ offices and asked if the member speaks a language other than English. There was an overall 65.6% response rate to the survey, and of those 35% had at least some second language ability while 20% claimed to speak the language fluently – considerably higher than the estimates for the general population.
Overwhelmingly, the most common language was Spanish, representing 54% of the languages spoken by members. Other prominent languages included French, Chinese, and German. 49% of Senators claim to have some second language ability, while 32% of members of the House of Representatives can speak more than one language.

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