Will the US Become a Bilingual Country?

In the U.S., speaking more than one language fluently is not very common – except in Los Angeles, California.The city has one of the largest populations in the U.S. of young people between the ages of 18 and 34. This generation is often called millennials. More than half of millennials in Los Angeles are bilingual, which means they speak more than one language.

Maria Elena Burgos is cooking a Mexican breakfast. She says making Mexican food is just one of the many traditions in her home. Another is speaking Spanish to her children.

“We want them to be bilingual. We want to keep the Spanish somewhere in their learning too, not only at home.” When Ms. Burgos first came to the United States from Mexico, she learned English. She knew her children would learn English quickly. So she wanted them to speak Spanish at home and study the language at school.
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Measuring English Proficiency in Real-World Situations

Trust — but verify. We trust that English language learners are gaining something through their studies, but how do we verify what they actually can do with their language skills? We may believe that a job candidate has the language ability to take a certain position, but where is the proof?

The answer comes through evaluation of language proficiency using a common measuring stick, such as the proficiency guidelines published by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). These evaluators describe “what individuals can do with language in terms of speaking, writing, listening and reading in real-world situations in a spontaneous and non-rehearsed context.”
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Using Languages in National Security

The largest employer for language professionals in this country is the U.S. Department of Defense—a fact that might surprise many people. In fact, national security is a fast-growing and exciting career area for those with strong foreign language skills, offering a wide variety of opportunities that stretch beyond translation and interpretation. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and National Security Agency (NSA) all hire hundreds of foreign language professionals each year to work as agents, linguists, and language analysts.

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