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Realizing the Economic Advantages of a Multilingual Workforce

Date Published: June 01, 2016

In a new economic analysis, CRP/PDC Co-director Dr. Patrícia Gandára and coauthor Sylvia Acevedo visit the issue of bilingual education from an economic perspective.

"Realizing the Economic Advantages of a Multilingual Workforce" shows how the transformation of the global economy has enabled countries and businesses to provide American consumers with products and services in English without leaving their home country, thus bypassing the American workforce. The loss of these jobs to bilingual workers outside of the U.S. has made an impact on many industries— from call centers to accounting services, and even medical radiography. Ironically, as a nation of immigrants, the American workforce should be a source of unparalleled linguistic resources. Unlike the multinational bilingual workers who can compete for jobs in their home country and in the United States, Americans who speak only English are left to compete for mostly local jobs. Consequently, many American workers miss out on global business opportunities because they are competing against an increasingly skilled global workforce that is both multilingual and fluent in English. 

The authors write, "In the United States, we cannot ignore the seismic changes altering our communities. Nor does it make sense to squander the rich linguistic resources that this nation already has. While other nations cultivate the technical and language skills of their workforces to expand on opportunities both in their home markets and here in the U.S., we cannot allow  a lack of language proficiency to leave American workers at a competitive disadvantage."

The full report is available in our Research section.


The White House issues a new policy statement and Tool Kit on supporting dual language learners (DLLs) in early education settings The statement by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education (ED) was issued at a White House Regional Summit in Miami. Co-author Sylvia Acevedo represents the Civil Rights Project study a the Summit, alongside 4 Too Small to Fail, First Five California, University of Washington's Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, National Head Start and New America.

HHS and ED's joint policy statement on better supporting dual language learners in early childhood settings reviews: 1) the research on the benefits of bilingualism, the importance of home language development, and instructional language models that best support DLLs’ learning and development; 2) existing laws and regulations intended to support DLLs and their families; and 3) makes policy and practice recommendations to States and to early childhood programs to better support DLLs.   


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