Theresa M. Sotelo, the director of the National Endowment for the Humanities, said the best way to encourage the next generation to learn languages is to have them learn the languages themselves.
She said children should have access to at least two languages as a way to build their language skills and to help them develop their own languages.
“I think that’s really what you need,” she said.
“There are so many different languages that the next generations will need to know, so I think that language is a really important component of the development of a child’s language skills.”
The National Endowments of the Arts and Humanities is trying to raise $50 million for the Children’s Language Center of Excellence.
The centers are funded by the federal government to provide free, bilingual classes in children’s languages to all students from kindergarten through high school.
The center also works to create and support bilingual language programs in schools.
The goal is to bring in 50,000 students by 2025, which would add up to 2 million more learners who will be able to speak a child or child’s mother tongue.
“I think the more we can make that happen, the better,” Sotelosaid.
“We really have to think about how we can have these kids learn a language that is not just spoken but also written.”
Soteliosaid said the centers would not replace the traditional language classes that many families use.
She added that it is important that parents and teachers use both languages.
“One of the big things that we’re trying to do is really push parents and parents of children who have no language to really encourage them to use the language, to actually try to teach them a language,” Sotaelos said.