Kristal Bivona examines language education in the U.S. since 9/11.
As we reflect on the tragedy of September 11, 2001 and honor the heroes who risked their lives in the aftermath, we also meditate upon how the world has changed since then. Language education profoundly changed after 9/11, in part because many policymakers recognized that linguistic and cultural proficiency are crucial for mutual cultural understanding that can foster peaceful diplomacy and curb terrorism in the long term. Policymakers also recognized that in the context of war, linguistic and cultural proficiency are among the most devastating weapons. Regardless of which reasoning resonated with Washington, the end result was massive increases in funding for critical languages, especially Middle Eastern languages.