The tragedy of 9/11 caused a major turning point in every aspect of American life. Higher education was not immune to the changes that occurred. According to the Modern Language Association (MLA) (2011), a crisis occurred in the teaching of foreign languages in higher education. A study was launched by the MLA to examine the American language deficit (MLA, 2011).
The world had opened up in a new way because of 9/11, and it was obvious to the MLA that America was unable to communicate effectively with the world. The MLA study recommended that more effective and expanded language study programs be created across the United States. It was suggested that the government, military, and higher education should be involved in developing comprehensive language programs. A shortage of qualified educators was an obvious issue. A newly-expanded global outlook expressed a need for the increased teaching and learning of foreign languages and an understanding of foreign cultures (Modern Language Association, 2011).
The MLA study suggested a massive transformation of university language programs. The goal of the aggressive programs would be to train translingual and transcultural professionals. These professionals would be trained in a foreign language so thoroughly that they would be able to speak the language as well as native speakers. They would also be immersed in the foreign society so that they had an in-depth understanding of the target culture (Modern Language Association, 2011).
The MLA (2011) recommended collaboration across disciplines pertaining to related fields of study and governance of programs by the university language departments. In general, society as a whole has not supported an aggressive approach to foreign language learning. That outlook has changed since 9/11.
An example of quality language instruction is the Chinese program at the University of Pittsburgh. Students in this program are immersed in the Mandarin language through an intense verbal and written curriculum. Students also study ancient and modern Chinese history and culture (University of Pittsburgh, 2011).
The events of 9/11 changed the world. The economy has gone global and so has education. Americans must meet the current worldview prepared. Effectual communication with people in or from other countries is imperative. Sharing with people from other countries in a personal and professional way, meeting one another on the same level, will help to smooth the borders between us.
Modern Language Association. (2011). Foreign languages and higher education: New structures for a changed world. Retrieved from www.mla.org/flreport
University of Pittsburgh. (2011, September 2). Eastern Asian languages and literatures. Retrieved from www.deall.pitt.edu