In the U.S., there is a lack of bilingualism skills being taught compared to other countries. Quite possibly, the lack of bilingualism is contributed to the increasing amount of schools losing language programs because of budget funding. In an article by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, a study conducted by the U.S. Census in 2000, revealed that 17.9 percent of Americans were bilingual, whereas, the European Commission reported in 2001 that 53 percent of Europeans knew more than one language (Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages).
Children in other countries are advancing in language skills while children are being left behind in the U.S. Although, in 2010 U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stated, “Americans need to read, speak and understand other languages” (Forbes.com).
Globally there should be more done to increase the percentage of successful children in schools. Learning a second language has psychological and cognitive benefits on a child’s brain functioning because it improves comprehension skills.
Angela Jackson, founder of Global Language Project (GLP), developed the GLP project in 2009 to improve the success rate of disadvantaged public school students. Consider the fact that, on average, 25 percent of elementary schools and 30 percent of middle schools report a lack of foreign language teachers who are qualified to teach (Forbes.com).
The free language program begins with kindergartners at the age of five years old to help them achieve proficiency in language. The program consists of 90 percent classroom immersion, to help target the language. The program last for six years until they graduate from elementary school.
Currently, the program serves 800 New York City students teaching Mandarin, Arabic and Spanish. “In New York, we have direct programs – we hire the teachers and train them at schools, [for] districts outside of New York, we help them find teachers that they can put on their staff,” said Jackson. The program is on to something because according to One World Nations Online, a website that promotes global awareness, the languages taught through the GLP prjoect is among the top five languages in the nation.
GLP’s latest project is Coloreando; their first musical CD, which was released on Oct. 29, 2013. The vivid CD is a compilation of traditional Spanish folk and classic songs, featuring vocalist Marta Gomez of Columbia. The CD is also adult user-friendly and can facilitate as a teaching tool for anyone. “Kids learn languages well with songs,” Jackson said.
Jackson emphasized the importance of children’s education. Learning languages will give them an additional skill and also help expose them to other cultures and possibilities in the workforce. In fact, knowing a second language can increase a person’s salary by 10 to 15 percent.
The GLP project is committed to expanding on global learning for children to prepare them for real life experiences, and also so they won’t have to feel left behind. “With our distribution deal, we’re going to do a CD for each language that we have, and we’ll start doing compilation CD’s in the future,” said Jackson.
A portion of proceeds from each CD purchase, benefits GLP’s mission to empower low-income students to succeed through learning foreign languages.
FTC Disclosure: The author received the Coloreando CD for the purpose of better educating readers. No payment was received for this interview.