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The English Is Coming

Posted By: Dick Schutz on April 5, 2011
You're telling me we have a foreign language "deficit", and that President Obama, Secretary Duncan, and the Foreign Language instructional establishment are squabbling about $29 million in matching funds allocated to address the "deficit"? C'mon.

The CIA has a deficit of fluent speakers of world-wide languages, to a greater or lesser degree depending on the then-current hot spots. And other US Business and Humanitarian interests need such personnel. By and large, for individuals, however, the time/cost benefit of spoken language fluency in a language other than English is decreasing rather than increasing. For two reasons:

One: English is sweeping the world as a global lingua franca. See: Duntun-Downer, L. The English Is Coming, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2010.

Two: Information Technology. "Machines" can currently translate text in the major languages and within the foreseeable future they will be able to translate spoken languages.

Don't get me wrong. Much of what you say makes sense. There are benefits in learning multiple languages other than "competitive" benefits. This holds for individuals of any age. But the optimal window of learning/teaching languages is from birth to pre-pubescence. When learning/teaching a language after that, very few individuals talk like native-language speakers.

Dick Schutz

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 The English Is Coming by Dick Schutz on April 5, 2011
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