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Featured Article from The ATA Chronicle (March 2006)

ATA Responds to National Security Language Initiative

Jiri Stejskal, ATA representative to JNCL-NCLIS

I am pleased to report that I was appointed ATA's representative to the Joint National Committee for Languages and the National Council for Languages and International Studies (JNCL-NCLIS) at the ATA Board meeting, held in Orlando, Florida, January 27-29, 2006. The mission of JNCL-NCLIS is to have its member organizations (ATA being one of them) be united in their belief that all Americans must have the opportunity to learn and use English and at least one other language. In my new role as ATA's representative to the JNCL-NCLIS, I would like to bring to your attention the following developments in this area.

On January 5, in a speech at the Department of State, President Bush launched the National Security Language Initiative (NSLI), a plan to further strengthen national security and prosperity in the 21st century through education, especially in developing foreign language skills. The NSLI will dramatically increase the number of Americans learning critical need foreign languages, such as Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Hindi, Farsi, and others through new and expanded programs from kindergarten through the university level, as well as offering such programs in the workforce. President Bush is requesting $114 million for the FY2007 budget, although some of this is to come from current programs that are to be refocused or expanded.

The three primary goals of the NSLI, according to the State Department are:

1. Expand the number of Americans mastering critical need languages and to start language education at a younger age.

2. Increase the number of advanced-level speakers of foreign languages, with an emphasis on critical need languages.

3. Increase the number of foreign language teachers and the resources for them.

For more detailed information, see www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2006/58733.htm.