The pre-Summit report, Wisconsin’s Language Landscape, for participants in the January 26 Wisconsin Language Summit, provides a broad overview of Wisconsin’s “language landscape” in three areas:
- Wisconsin employers’ needs for multilingual talent,
- Language and culture resources in Wisconsin’s indigenous and immigrant communities,
- Current capacities in Wisconsin’s K-12 schools and institutions of higher education for developing students’ proficiency in world languages and competencies in intercultural communication.
The report is based on an assessment, conducted for the Wisconsin Language Roadmap Initiative in the summer-fall 2017, that included interviews and surveys of hundreds of Wisconsinites: employers, business and community leaders, and language educators. The report summarizes insights shared by those individuals regarding the current and future needs of our state when it comes to proficiency in world languages.
Key findings include:
- Proficiency in languages and intercultural communicative competencies are important for the state’s future economic growth, both to expand internationally as well as to access domestic multilingual markets.
- Language and culture skills are critical for providing services to domestic populations.
- Wisconsin employers recognize the value of multilingual workforce talent to promote international exports and expansion, gain access to global and domestic markets, build strong partnerships through personal relationships, gain a competitive advantage, and provide services to local communities.
- At a state level, Wisconsin’s K-16 educational system has not traditionally prioritized the development of skills in languages other than English to a high level of proficiency through sequential and articulated programs of study. Wisconsin risks falling behind other states that have recognized the importance of proficiency in world languages and are investing in language education.
- Wisconsin educators identify several areas of acute need, including the dearth of early and sustained language-learning opportunities for Wisconsin students, the critical shortage of qualified language teachers, and the insufficient integration of world languages into the core curriculum.
- While there exists much local will and commitment to promote and, in many cases, revitalize tribal and immigrant languages across the state, broader governmental and financial support are needed to help sustain community-based efforts.