As a true believer in the benefits of learning a foreign language, I have been very excited by recent proposals and enactments to highlight K-12 foreign language instruction.
In his 2012 state of the state address, Delaware Governor Jack Markell declared that the First State will be moving forward with the World Language Expansion Initiative, creating partial immersion programs in 20 schools in which "students will spend half the school day learning in another language."
Foreign language has gotten a toehold as an accountability indicator with recently-enacted Illinois legislation that requires school accountability report cards to report on foreign language offerings (at the state superintendent's discretion, this indicator may also be included in district report cards).
Meanwhile, Louisiana legislation enacted in 2011 outlines criteria for "Certified Foreign Language Immersion Programs" and directs the state board to designate as as a certified program any foreign language immersion program that meets the criteria. The legislation makes clear that the purpose of the certification process is not only to put the Good Housekeeping seal of approval on high-quality programs, but to support schools and districts "in establishing and maintaining high quality, highly effective foreign language immersion programs." And in an October 2011 post I highlighted California legislation to create a State Seal of Biliteracy on high school diplomas and transcripts, the first such state-level initiative in the nation.
In a time when the Wall Street Journal is reporting on the growing demand for American workers who speak foreign languages (particularly Spanish and Chinese), and the expansion of online and blended learning programs has the potential to connect ever more students with learning experiences in foreign languages, let's hope that more states work in 2012 to increase student access to high-quality foreign language instruction.