Bilingual Report on the State of Spanish and World Language Education in Arkansas Has Been Released

Bilingual Report on the State of Spanish and World Language Education in Arkansas Has Been Released
Cecilia Grossberger

A report on the state of Spanish and world language education in Arkansas was released Dec. 14, 2023, by a team of faculty from the World Language, Literatures and Cultures Department as part of the Chancellor's Grant for the Humanities and Performing Arts. The report, Arkansas Participation in a 500-Million-Person Community: Building Capacity for Spanish Teaching Statewide, was led by Professors Luis Fernando Restrepo, Raquel Castro Salas and Brenda Magnetti. Based on state and national data, education literature and best practices from other states and national organizations, the report also includes surveys and interviews to stakeholders across the state.

Some of the key findings of the report are: 

  1. Spanish is becoming part of the fabric of everyday life in Arkansas, and it is connecting our state with one of the largest language communities in the world. However, there is no concerted effort to maximize its positive impact on the lives of all Arkansans in education, business and culture. 
  2. The demand for Spanish and world language skills is increasing in the global economy and in our diverse communities. However, the supply of qualified and certified world language teachers is insufficient to meet the current and projected needs of our students and schools. 
  3. There is a need for a statewide world languages road map that articulates a clear vision, goals and standards for world language education in Arkansas from grade school through college (PK-16) to provide Arkansas students a 21st century education of global reach.  

The report provides several recommendations for improving and expanding world language (Spanish) education in Arkansas, such as: 

Building Educational Capacity: 

  • Arkansas can follow suit of other states that have developed a language roadmap with the assistance of the Flagship Program. The roadmap will set the goals, identify barriers and track gains. 
  • Implementing world language education in elementary schools will ensure that after high school and college, the new generation of students will achieve the level of proficiency needed in their professional careers. 
  • Enhance literacy programs for Spanish-speaking adults, including GED classes in Spanish. The credentials provided by the GED are most likely to improve the earnings of immigrant workers, benefiting their families. 

Make Languages Count: 

  • Establish credentialing to reward bilingual social service providers, educators and professionals. 
  • Establish a credentialing process to develop an ample pool of qualified translators.  

Calling All Stakeholders: 

  • Identify the language needs of the industries, agencies and organizations across the state and get them involved in the development and implementation of a language roadmap. 

The team hopes that this report, written in English and Spanish, will serve as a catalyst for dialogue and action among all stakeholders involved in world language education in Arkansas. The full report can be read at https://spanishroadmap.uark.edu/the-arkansas-spanish-language-landscape-report/. With a vibrant multilingual community, Arkansas has the potential to become a leader in world language education and a model for the nation. For more information, contact Dr. Restrepo (lrestr@uark.edu), Dr. Castro (rcastros@uark.edu) and Dr. Magnetti (bmagnet@uark.edu).  

Contacts

Raquel Castro, teaching assistant professor
WLLC - Spanish
612-876-7595, rcastros@uark.edu

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