University of Wisconsin–Madison


The Wisconsin Language Roadmap Initiative will enhance the economic competitiveness and vitality of the State of Wisconsin by strengthening and promoting world language education for Wisconsin students at all levels, K-16, and by raising awareness about the importance of second language proficiency and intercultural competencies as they relate to the current and future economic competitiveness of the State.

Language is important for many reasons. It is at the heart of what it means to be human. Language is not just a means of communication, but also for forming and sustaining relationships. Language enables self- and artistic expression. It is a primary means for creating and sharing knowledge, for conveying cultural values, norms and beliefs, and for expressing personal and social identities. The ability to use multiple languages expands the resources that individuals can deploy for many different types of purposes: to communicate, build personal and professional relationships, gain access to and share knowledge, and develop an understanding of other cultures and worldviews. From a societal perspective, multilingualism is beneficial in many areas, ranging from the interpersonal to diplomatic to economic.

For Wisconsin’s future economy, proficiency in multiple languages is critical for the state’s workforce to succeed in increasingly interconnected global markets and to participate in professional and personal networks that cross linguistic, cultural and national boundaries.

With more than 70% of the world’s purchasing power outside the United States, it is essential that our Wisconsin companies expand their share of the global market… I frequently hear from companies that it is difficult to find the language skills they require to be highly successful in the global market. As Wisconsin works to increase the global competitiveness of our state, workforce language skills are increasingly important..

Katy Sinnott, Vice President of International Economic Development, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

Key Project Activities

June 1 – December 31, 2017

  • Form and convene Advisory Board.
  • Conduct assessment of statewide needs and capacities for cultural competencies and proficiency in languages in terms of:
    • multilingual workforce needs
    • community resources
    • K-16 educational capacities
  • Prepare and disseminate a report summarizing results of the assessment.

January 26, 2018: Convene the invitation-only Wisconsin Language Summit of Wisconsin leaders in business and industry, the non-profit sector, K-16 education, community organizations, and government to discuss and further articulate workforce language needs, review current educational capacities, and formulate recommendations for innovation.

Spring-Summer 2018: Form working groups to draft recommendations for the Wisconsin Language Roadmap and solicit broad public input on those recommendations.

Fall 2018: Prepare and disseminate the Wisconsin Language Roadmap, a document that will identify action items to address Wisconsin’s workforce and community language needs.

2018-19: Form and facilitate implementation teams to take action on top-priority Language Roadmap recommendations at the State and/or local levels.

Contact us to learn more!