Excellence and Innovation in Language Learning Act

Reps. Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Paul Tonko (D-NY) have introduced the Excellence and Innovation in Language Learning Act (HR 6036), a bill that would authorize $400 million in funding for FY 2011 for the teaching of foreign languages to K-12 students. The sponsoring Representatives hope that the bill will become part of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or “No Child Left Behind.”

Tonko spoke about his intention to introduce this bill two weeks ago at a policy briefing on language learning in the global age: “The next generation must not follow the globe, but shape it,” Tonko said, noting that foreign language instruction for young Americans is imperative to “U.S. national security and global leadership challenges.”

Key elements of the bill are that it would authorize $400 million for fiscal year 2011 for programs at the national, state, and local levels, specifically: a. National activities: $100 milion to establish the U.S. Department of Education in a leadership role to coordinate a national effort to build our language capacity by supervising the adoption of standards, supporting research for best practice in teaching languages, collecting data on international benchmarks in language learning, providing scholarships for students and teachers to study abroad, and support partnerships that demonstrate high quality and effective models of language instruction. b. State Activities: $100 million to help establish a statewide coordination advisory council that would develop a comprehensive state plan for expanding language learning opportunities as well as boosting efforts to recruit and train qualified language teachers. c. Foreign Language Education Partnership Programs: $200 million for partnerships between K-12 school systems and higher education to develop model K-16 sequences of language instruction that would include appropriate assessments of language proficiency and provide scholarships for teachers and students as well as fund research on effective language teaching.

Please contact your representatives to express your support for this bill.