Report of the Task Force on the Preservation of Heritage Language Skills in Maryland



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Report of the Task Force on the Preservation of Heritage Language Skills in Maryland
Submitted to the Governor and Maryland General Assembly

January 1, 2009

Report of the Task Force on the

Preservation of Heritage Language Skills in Maryland


Martin O’Malley

Governor
Maryland State Board of Education Dr. Lelia T. Allen Dr. Charlene M. Dukes



James H. DeGraffenreidt, Jr., (President) Mr. Dunbar Brooks Dr. Karabelle Pizzigati

Mr. Blair Ewing Dr. Mary Kay Finan Dr. Ivan C.A. Walks

(Vice President) Ms. Rosa M. Garcia Ms. Kate Walsh

Mr. Richard Goodall Mr. D. Derek Wu (Student)

Nancy S. Grasmick

Secretary/Treasurer of the Board

State Superintendent of Schools
JoAnne L. Carter

Deputy State Superintendent

Office of Instruction and Academic Acceleration
Colleen Seremet

Assistant State Superintendent

Division of Instruction
The Maryland State Department of Education does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, age, national origin, religion, disability, or sexual orientation in matters affecting employment or in providing access to programs. For inquiries related to departmental policy, contact the Equity Assurance and Compliance Branch, Maryland State Department of Education, 200 W. Baltimore Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21201. 410.767.0433 (voice) 410.767.0431 (fax) 410.333.6442 (TTY/TDD) For more information about the contents of this document, contact 410.767.0307.
©Maryland State Department of Education 2008
Table of Contents
Note From the Chair ……………………………………………………………………………iii
Task Force Members …………………………………………………………………………….iv
Executive Summary ………………………………………………………………………………1
History and Charge ………………………………………………………………………………6
Report of the Task Force …………………………………………………………………………7
Recommendations ……………………………………………………………………………….31
Appendix 1: Executive Order …………………………….…………………………….……….38
Appendix 2: Additional Demographic Data …………………………………………………....44
Appendix 3: Languages Spoken by Survey Resondents ………………………………………..48
Appendix 4: Summary of Town Hall Meeting …………………………………………………50

Note From the Chair


The Task Force for the Preservation of Heritage Language Skills in Maryland was established during the 2008 Maryland General Assembly session in order to investigate current language preservation efforts and to develop new strategies in preserving world language skills in our State. To our knowledge, this is the first state-sponsored task force on heritage languages in the United States.
Maryland is home to an unusually diverse and well-educated immigrant population. Newcomers recognize the preeminent importance of mastering English, and many also strive to maintain their heritage languages, speaking them at home and hoping their children will become fluently bilingual. Heritage language speakers represent a vital resource to our commercial, educational, and cultural communities. In order to maintain America’s competitive edge in such vital sectors as trade and national security, it is critical that we provide for the preservation of our heritage languages, while assuring that our new Marylanders have ample access to effective English language programs.
The strengths of Maryland’s state education system, the strategic and international orientation of many of its corporate and governmental employers, and the unique resources of the national capital area position Maryland to take a strong leadership role in assuring that the language skills of its immigrants are preserved to the benefit of the State and the nation. In these difficult economic times, it is encouraging that many strategies identified in the study are extremely cost-effective. The work of the Task Force itself – characterized by commitment, expertise, and creativity - has borne witness to the feasibility of effective collaboration across sectors and to the timeliness and significance of this effort. It is our hope that this report will serve as a catalyst for a robust initiative that will break further new ground in the coming years.

Sincerely,

Catherine Ingold

Director, National Foreign Language Center

Task Force Members
Catherine Ingold, Chair

Director, National Foreign Language Center

Appointed by Senate President

Honorable James C. Rosapepe

Appointed by House Speaker

Honorable Joseline Peña-Melnyk

Designee of the State superintendent of schools

Colleen Seremet, Assistant State Superintendent for Instruction

Designee of the State Secretary of BUSINESS AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Cathleen Hamel, Division of International Investment and Trade

Designee of the State Secretary of HUMAN RESOURCES

Martin Ford, Associate Director, Maryland Office for Refugees and Asylees

DESIGNEE OF THE MARYLAND HIGHER EDUCATION COMMISSION

George W. Reid, Assistant Secretary

DESIGNEE OF THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE OF COMMUNITY INITIATIVES

Angela Lagdameo, Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff

Maryland state department of education appointees

Chuks Eleonu, CEO, African Peoples Action Congress

María Flores, Foreign Language Supervisor, Prince George’s County Public Schools

Katie Gray, Vice President, F-16 Sensor Systems and California Microwave, Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems

Gigi Guzmán, GlobalTech Bilingual Institute

Henry Lau, Chairman, Greater Washington Chinese-American Alliance

Rosamaria Somarriba, Assistant Vice President, International Trade Finance Group, M & T Bank

Terry L. Thompson, Principal, Booz Allen Hamilton

Gustavo Torres, Executive Director, CASA of Maryland

Maria Wilmeth, Director, Italian Language Program, Italian Cultural Society of Washington, D.C.

UNiversity system of maryland appointees

Ababakar Diop, Project Assistant, African Language Research Project, University of Maryland Eastern Shore

Ana María Schwartz, Department Chair, Modern Languages and Linguistics, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

MARYLAND ASSOCIATION OF COMMUNITY COLLEGES

Marlene Cohen, Professor of Communication and Coordinator, International Education Center, Prince George’s Community College

EX OFFICIO MEMBERS

Anna Bezrukov, Consultant, Booz Allen Hamilton

Mitch Butta, Director of International Operations, Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems

Samantha Musgrave, Intern, Maryland Office for Refugees and Asylees

staff


Edward R. Post, Legislative Assistant to Senator Rosapepe

Mary Lehman, Legislative Aide to Delegate Peña-Melnyk

Susan Spinnato, Specialist, World Languages, Maryland State Department of Education

Executive Summary

The Task Force for the Preservation of Heritage Language Skills in Maryland was established during the 2008 Maryland General Assembly session, (Senate Bill 506 and House Bill 610) in order to investigate current language preservation efforts, as well as to develop new strategies in preserving world language skills in our State.
“Heritage languages” are those languages spoken by minority or immigrant people living in a country with a different societal language. Sometimes called “home languages,” heritage languages are those used by immigrants to the United States, by their children who immigrated to the U.S. before they had any formal instruction in their native language, and by their grandchildren who may use the heritage language to communicate with their grandparents and in the social context of heritage community activities.
Maryland is home to an unusually diverse and well-educated immigrant population. Newcomers recognize the preeminent importance of mastering English, and many also strive to maintain their heritage languages, speaking them at home and hoping their children will become fluently bilingual.
Heritage language speakers represent a vital resource to our business, educational, and cultural communities. In order to maintain America’s competitive edge in such vital sectors as trade and national security, it is critical that we provide for the preservation of our heritage languages.
In 2006, 12.2% of Maryland’s population was foreign-born. This figure mirrored the national average (12.5%). Maryland’s foreign-born population is diverse, with no single national origin group representing more than 10% of the total. While Marylanders speak more than 140 languages, Spanish, French, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, German, Russian, Vietnamese, and Hindi are the heritage languages with the most speakers in the State. It is worthy of note that Maryland’s heritage speakers are remarkably diverse, and no single group predominates. Indeed, only about a third of heritage language speakers in Maryland speak Spanish – far fewer than the national average. Besides being a diverse language population, Maryland’s heritage language speakers are highly educated. In 2006, Maryland ranked third of 50 states and the District of Columbia based on its share of the foreign-born population with bachelor’s degrees or higher.

Senate Bill 506 and House Bill 610 succinctly outlined membership and questions to which the Task Force was required to respond. These questions covered a broad perspective of issues surrounding heritage languages. The Task Force was charged with reporting to the Governor and the General Assembly by January 1, 2009. The Maryland State Department of Education provided staff to the Task Force which brought together representatives from education, government, business, and community groups from around the State.

The Task Force mandate was to investigate the current state of heritage language preservation in Maryland by studying current methods for preserving skills, consulting with experts in the field of world language training, compiling statistics on the subject, and by developing a process to prioritize language needs for government and industry while identifying “best practices” already in place. Based on its findings the Task Force was to develop recommendations and actions which offered a cost-effective way to facilitate heritage language learning while maximizing the preservation of heritage language skills in Maryland.
Community and Religious Groups Provide a Focus for Heritage Languages

A subcommittee format was employed to gather the data utilized by the Task Force to develop the recommendations. The subcommittees used open source information such as the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2006 American Community Survey, data from the Governor’s Office for Community Initiatives (GOCI) and websites such as the Heritage Alliance. It further drew upon community-based organizations such as The Hope Chinese School of College Park which offers language education to approximately 180 students over the course of two semesters running concurrent with the public school system and Talent, a Tamil education and training program founded in the basements of Tamil heritage community members. Religious-based groups such as the Korean Presbyterian Church of Baltimore and The Kali Temple in Burtonsville which is focused on Bengali languages provide heritage training to small focused groups often using volunteers. Most noted that heritage language proficiency is normally lost by the second generation without intervention. This insight provided the Task Force with a diverse and varied viewpoint to better understand the needs and challenges faced by these organizations who are attempting to promote and foster their heritage language and culture.


Survey Conducted by the Task Force

To augment the Census and other data collected, the Task Force conducted a pilot survey concerning languages other than English spoken at home. Populations surveyed included students in Speech for International Students classes at Prince George’s Community College, Adult Education students at Prince George’s Community College, Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems employees, and Adult Education students of CASA of Maryland. This pilot survey was designed to sample the opinions and needs of heritage language speakers. More than 700 responses were received. Preliminary findings from 446 respondents, who ranged from newcomers to the United States to those who had lived in the United States more than twenty years, include:




  • Respondents were born in 58 different countries

  • They had lived in 47 other countries for more than six months

  • They grew up in households that spoke 94 different languages in addition to English

  • Many use 2-3 languages in addition to English


Town Hall Meeting

The Task Force hosted a Town Hall Meeting on November 24th, 2008, at Howard High School in Howard County, MD. There were over 100 audience members, including thirty participants who provided testimony to the Task Force members. Representatives from various groups provided written and/or oral testimony regarding their programs and the challenges they face; many groups shared similar concerns.


Highlights from the Town Hall include the following:
“The importance of learning the mother tongue to heritage culture, as language represents the core of the identities of children, representing their values, culture, and traditions.”
“The critical need to develop language diversity in Maryland in order to maintain the competitive edge necessary to participate in the increasingly globalized business community”
“….establishment of statewide funding to foster heritage school expansion, a fast track to certification for experienced teachers, and the standardization of language skills tests to promote learning on behalf of heritage students.”

Languages'>Challenges with the Preservation of Heritage Languages

The Task Force also gained a better understanding of the challenges associated with preserving heritage languages. From resource constraints such as limited budgets and inadequate facilities to the diversity of needs which require instruction to address beginners to advanced skills all within the confines of a basic program assisted the Task Force in better understanding the varied needs of these organizations.


Businesses and Government Need Heritage Language Speakers

The Maryland business community was investigated with data collected from the World Trade Center Institute, Regional Manufacturing Institute, Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce and Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems. Business community findings include the following assessment of heritage language preservation and practice:



  • Fluency in multiple languages recognized as a valuable company asset and business enabler

  • Limited formal programs to identify language skill gaps or preserve capability

  • Informal programs include

    • Language lessons hosted by native language-speaking employees

    • Multi-lingual employees identified on an as-needed basis

  • Formal processes to preserve and enhance heritage language capabilities tied to strategic plans

Language requirements of the Federal Government highlighted needs which support U.S. national security interests. The National Security Agency (NSA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as well as data gathered during a Task Force visit to the National Virtual Translation Center (NVTC) noted a need for the following language skills: Arabic, Pashtu, Russian, Chinese/Mandarin, French, Urdu, Korean, Japanese, Russian, Indic, Iranian, and other Turkic language families and several African languages and dialects.



Recommendations of the Task Force

Given the state’s demographic profile and proximity to the national capital, Maryland is uniquely positioned to take a leadership role to support heritage language requirements of government and industry. Future economic and national interest needs will continue and increase the demand for heritage languages so that we can engage in a more dynamic interchange with our global partners. Having a multi-lingual workforce could provide Maryland with a competitive discriminator to better compete in the world’s marketplace. Therefore the Task Force is pleased to present the following recommendations for consideration:




  1. Establish a website for Maryland’s heritage language programs.

  2. Support and promote the awarding of high school credit by exam for students who attend non-public heritage language schools in Maryland.

  3. Offer additional preK – grade 12 world language programs in Maryland public schools where students have the opportunity to learn English while continuing to enhance their heritage language proficiency.

  4. Continue to expand teacher certification options for heritage language speakers.

  5. Enhance library collections of children’s literature in heritage languages.

  6. Provide affordable, accessible advanced English language classes for adult heritage language speakers.

  7. Increase access to heritage language programs for all Marylanders by exploring and sharing information on facilities for use by heritage language training programs.

  8. Compile and make available a list of employment opportunities in Maryland for heritage language speakers.

  9. Develop a Language Roadmap (strategic plan) for Maryland.

Although the work of the Task Force is complete, the members agreed that there is a need to continue engaging business, community members, and State agencies in the important work of preserving heritage languages in Maryland. On December 4, 2008, Governor Martin O’Malley signed an Executive Order (See Appendix 1.) that establishes the Maryland Council for New Americans to “promote full immigrant integration into the economic and civic life of Maryland.” With this Executive Order, Governor O’Malley has established a partnership between public, private, and civic sectors in Maryland that has the potential to continue the discussion and give impetus to the recommendations of the Task Force.

History and Charge

The need for world language skills is increasingly important for national security, defense and education, and to maintain a competitive edge in business and trade. Maryland’s heritage language speakers are descendants of immigrants and raised in homes in which foreign languages are spoken. These speakers, however, are educated in English and comprise a valuable and vastly underutilized linguistic resource for the United States. During the 2008 Maryland General Assembly session, Senator James Rosapepe and Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk, both of the 21st District, sponsored legislation to create a Task Force that would study methods of advancing and preserving heritage language skills in Maryland.  Their bills received broad support.  Senate Bill 506 passed by a vote of 41 to 6, and House Bill 610 passed 93 to 40.

Senate Bill 506 and House Bill 610 succinctly outlined membership and questions to which the Task Force was required to respond. These questions covered a broad perspective of issues surrounding heritage languages. The Task Force was charged with reporting to the Governor and the General Assembly by January 1, 2009. The Maryland State Department of Education provided staff to the Task Force which brought together representatives from education, government, business, and community groups from around the State.

The following are the mandates that the Task Force addressed from Senate Bill 506 and House Bill 610:



  • Study methods of advancing and preserving heritage language skills in Maryland;

  • Consult with educators and other experts in the field of world language training and development;

  • Review and identify the best practices of heritage language programs that are being or will be conducted by government, schools, community groups, religious groups, and ethnics groups in the State, across the U.S., and internationally;

  • Compile data on the number of actual and potential heritage language speakers in Maryland;

  • Develop a process to identify priority heritage languages that is flexible enough to meet current and future national security and international business requirements;

  • Consider new, cost-effective, and innovative ways to encourage and facilitate heritage language learning while also encouraging new citizens of the U.S. to learn and master English;

  • Recommend actions and programs that ensure maximum preservation of heritage language skills and identify measures of success for each.

Report of the Task Force
Heritage Languages: What are They and Why are They Important?
“Heritage languages” are those languages spoken by minority or immigrant people living in a country with a different societal language. Sometimes called “home languages,” heritage languages are those used by immigrants to the United States, by their children who immigrated to the U.S. before they had any formal instruction in their native language, and by their grandchildren who may use the heritage language to communicate with their grandparents and in the social context of heritage community activities. As stated in the Act, these heritage language speakers comprise a valuable and vastly underutilized linguistic resource in the United States. This is especially true in Maryland where more than 140 heritage languages are spoken and heritage language speakers are highly educated and located close to major population centers.
While heritage languages are a valuable resource, maintaining (or “preserving”) these languages requires time, energy and resources. In some cases, heritage communities provide for the education of their children in the heritage language through religious and social organizations and language training is enriched by immersion in the heritage culture at home. However, children who are born in the U.S. or come here when very young are unlikely to be literate in their heritage language unless the parents systematically home-school their children or the children have access to an effective program of study at school. In either case, only a small minority of these children receive enough heritage language education in the community to become literate.
Immigrant parents overwhelmingly understand the importance of learning English for their children’s well-being, and parents and children alike often focus on English to the exclusion of instruction in the home language. Research has shown that by the third or even second generation following immigration, individuals no longer speak the heritage language without having studied it as a school subject. Where there is continued new immigration, this pattern may not be obvious to people outside the heritage community. New immigrants often seek out earlier immigrants of the same culture, with the community members who arrived earlier acting as bridges to the new U.S. language and society to which the newer immigrants must adapt. Absent new immigration, most heritage languages die out as community languages once those who immigrated as adults have died. While there are exceptions, the phenomenon of heritage (or minority indigenous) language disappearance is highly consistent and well-documented in research.
Maryland’s heritage language communities represent an important and unique resource for the State and the Nation. As pointed out in the Act, the need for world language skills is increasingly important in national security, defense, education, and in maintaining a competitive edge in business and trade. Maryland’s heritage language speakers can and do contribute in all of these areas. The Act also notes that heritage language skills tend to diminish rapidly as individuals and families are assimilated, and underscores the need to encourage and assist heritage language speakers in maintaining, developing, and improving their native language abilities while improving their English skills.
This report focuses on these challenges by documenting Maryland’s heritage language resources and describing the activities related to language education carried out by many heritage language communities. The report also discusses the challenges associated with heritage language preservation, describes approaches for preserving heritage languages, and outlines opportunities for heritage language speakers in business and government. Recommendations are provided to address the most pressing challenges and to fuel additional thinking and actions to ensure Maryland continues to focus on heritage languages. On December 4, 2008, Governor Martin O’Malley signed an Executive Order that establishes the Maryland Council for New Americans to “promote full immigrant integration into the economic and civic life of Maryland.” (See Appendix 1.) With this Executive Order, Governor O’Malley has established a partnership between public, private, and civic sectors in Maryland that has the potential to continue the discussion and give impetus to the recommendations of the Task Force.
Maryland has a diverse and educated heritage language population
In 2006, 12.2% of Maryland’s population was foreign-born. This figure mirrored the national average (12.5%). Maryland’s foreign-born population is diverse, with no single national origin group representing more than 10% of the total. Latin America accounted for 35% of Maryland’s foreign-born population, a lower percentage than the U.S. average, while 34% of Maryland’s foreign-born population was born in Asia, a higher percentage than the U.S. average. While Marylanders speak more than 140 languages, Spanish, French, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, German, Russian, Vietnamese, and Hindi are the heritage languages with the most speakers in the State. There is also a significant population of speakers of African languages including Kru, Igbo, and Yoruba.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2006 American Community Survey, 15% (780,199 individuals) of Maryland’s total population spoke a language other than English at home. Of this population, 480,463 reported speaking English “very well”, while 299,736 reported speaking English “less than very well,” representing a population with limited English proficiency. Also in 2006, 21.9% (148,279) of Maryland’s foreign-born population reported speaking English only, suggesting that they are potential speakers of heritage languages.
Specific language information is available for 2005 and indicates that 29 languages other than English are spoken in a significant number of Maryland homes (see Figure 1).


Language

Number of Speakers

Percentage of Maryland Population

Spanish

289,481

5.77

French

46,959

0.93

Chinese

43,192

0.85

Korean

32,649

0.65

Kru, Igbo, Yoruba

23,792

0.47

Tagalog

21,802

0.43

German

21,307

0.42

Russian

21,200

0.42

Vietnamese

16,756

0.33

Hindi

16,042

0.32

Persian

12,070

0.24

Portuguese

11,327

0.22

Amharic

10,863

0.21

Italian

10,581

0.21

Greek

9,265

0.18

Urdu

9,091

0.18

Hebrew

8,171

0.16

French Creole

7,859

0.15

Arabic

7,167

0.14

Gujarat

6,772

0.13

Japanese

6,620

0.13

Thai

5,391

0.1

Bengali

4,435

0.08

Polish

4,286

0.08

Cantonese

3,855

0.07

Tamil

3,705

0.07

Swahili

3,457

0.06

Punjabi

3,384

0.06


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