American's Languages: Investing in Language Education for the 21st Century

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences has just released the report "America's Languages: Investing in Language Education for the 21st Century." In the report Columbia University's Russian heritage language courses, designed and taught by Dr. Alla Smyslova (Director of the Russian Language Program), receive special mention:

Similarly, more two- and four-year colleges and universities should make available curricula designed specifically for Native American languages and heritage speakers, and should find ways to offer credit for proficiency in a heritage language. As in k–12 education, some colleges and universities are already experimenting with such curricula. The Spanish Heritage Language Program at the University of Houston offers special courses for heritage Spanish speakers; students who have successfully completed the intermediate level in this program fulfill the university’s foreign language requirement and are encouraged to enroll in more advanced classes. The Universities of Arizona, Washington, and Oregon all support similar programs, providing new contexts for students’ personal and cultural experiences; locating the Spanish spoken at home within a broader Spanish-speaking world; and featuring service-learning opportunities in local Spanish-speaking communities. And Columbia University introduced a dedicated track for heritage Russian speakers that brings limited-proficiency students to an advanced level in their heritage language in two semesters, while satisfying the university’s undergraduate second language requirement. Each of these programs offers a model that can be adopted elsewhere and be applied to other heritage languages. (pages 23-24)