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 demand 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:

  • Launch initiative in consultation with key stakeholders.
  • 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
    • K-16 educational capacities
    • Community resources
  • Prepare and disseminate broadly pre-Summit white paper summarizing results of the assessment.

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

May 2018: Based on outcomes of the Wisconsin Language Summit, prepare and disseminate the Wisconsin Language Roadmap, a document that will put forward action items for these stakeholders to further develop multilingual talent that meets Wisconsin’s future workforce needs.

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

Contact us to learn more!