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American Academy of Arts and Sciences Submits Testimony on Foreign Language and Cultural Competency to Senate Subcommittee

Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. | May 21, 2012 – The American Academy of Arts and Sciences submitted written testimony for inclusion in the formal record of the May 21, 2012 U.S. Senate hearing on A National Security Crisis: Foreign Language Capabilities in the Federal Government.

In testimony presented to the Subcommittee on Oversight of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Academy President Leslie C. Berlowitz urged Congress to take steps to improve foreign language proficiency and cultural competency among U.S. citizens. “Investing in these areas is critical to America’s national security and economic well-being,” she said.

Citing the American Academy’s Humanities Indicators, Berlowitz noted that only 15.7 percent of Americans consider themselves fluent in a language other than English and only 3 percent of Americans achieve fluency through academic study.

Foreign language fluency and knowledge of other cultures is one of the critical skills identified by the Academy’s national Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences, according to Berlowitz. The Commission will issue recommendations next year. The Academy testimony outlines six initial findings for the subcommittee’s consideration.