The ability to use multiple languages expands the resources that individuals can deploy for many different types of purposes: to communicate, build personal and professional relationships, gain access to and share knowledge, and develop an understanding of other cultures and worldviews. From a societal perspective, multilingualism is beneficial in many areas, ranging from the interpersonal to diplomatic to economic.

The Wisconsin Language Roadmap Initiative aims to ensure that Wisconsin’s future citizens are able to effectively compete in interconnected global markets, engage with diverse local communities, and participate in professional and personal networks that cross linguistic, cultural, and national boundaries. The long-term goals of the initiative are to prepare Wisconsin students at all levels, K-16, to be workforce- and community-ready with advanced proficiency in one or more languages in addition to English and in doing so, enhance the economic competitiveness and vitality of the State of Wisconsin.

For Wisconsin’s future economy, proficiency in multiple languages is critical for the state’s workforce to succeed in increasingly interconnected global markets and to participate in professional and personal networks that cross linguistic, cultural and national boundaries.

With more than 70% of the world’s purchasing power outside the United States, it is essential that our Wisconsin companies expand their share of the global market… I frequently hear from companies that it is difficult to find the language skills they require to be highly successful in the global market. As Wisconsin works to increase the global competitiveness of our state, workforce language skills are increasingly important.

-Katy Sinnott, Vice President of International Economic Development, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

Key Project Activities

June-December 2017: In consultation with the initiative’s Advisory Board, conducted an assessment of Wisconsin’s multilingual workforce and community needs and current educational capacities. The findings of this assessment are summarized in the report, Wisconsin’s Language Landscape.

Wisconsin leaders at the 2018 Wisconsin Language Summit.

January 2018: Convened the invitation-only Wisconsin Language Summit of Wisconsin leaders in business and industry, the non-profit sector, K-16 education, community organizations, and government to discuss and further articulate workforce language needs, review current educational capacities, and formulate recommendations for innovation.

Spring-Summer 2018: Formed working groups to draft recommendations for the Wisconsin Language Roadmap and solicit broad public input on those recommendations.

December 2018: Publish and disseminate The Wisconsin Language Roadmap: Investing in Language Education for a World-Ready Wisconsina strategic planning report that paves the way to a world-ready Wisconsin by outlining strategic goals, core recommendations, and action items that address Wisconsin’s workforce and community language needs.

2018-19: Form and facilitate implementation teams to take action on the following top-priority Language Roadmap recommendations at the State and/or local levels:

  1. Establish the Wisconsin Coalition for Advancing Language Learning to provide an infrastructure for state-level leadership to support and sustain cross-sector collaboration for innovation in world language education. (Language Roadmap action item 1.1.a.)
  2. Form a Dual Language Immersion (DLI) program development team to lead an effort in Wisconsin to expand access to language learning in grades K-12 through cost-effective DLI development for world language learners. (Language Roadmap action item 2.1.a.)
  3.  Support the work of the Department of Public Instruction to revise the Wisconsin Academic Standards for World Languages to promote the development of articulated standards- and proficiency-based K-12 world language education programs. The revised standards will include performance descriptors from the Novice to Advanced levels of proficiency on the ACTFL scale. (Language Roadmap action item 2.1.d.)

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