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Is STEM missing a subject?

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Is STEM missing a subject?

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U.S. policymakers and administrators have long touted better STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and math) as a way to bridge achievement gaps and spark innovation. But STEM should not be promoted at the expense of other subjects, particularly foreign languages.

U.S. policymakers and administrators have long touted better STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and math) as a way to bridge achievement gaps and spark innovation. But STEM should not be promoted at the expense of other subjects, particularly foreign languages.

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Is STEM missing a subject?

  1. 1. Is STEM missing a subject?
  2. 2. We’ve all heard about the importance of improving education in the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering, and math.
  3. 3. But something is missing from that equation.
  4. 4. Did you know that foreign languages are at the heart of our national STEM sector’s ability to communicate, innovate, collaborate, and compete?
  5. 5. The $15-billion, highly-technological U.S. language industry enables U.S. STEM businesses to reach foreign markets worth $1.5 trillion. - Dr. Bill Rivers, Executive Director of JNCL-NCLIS
  6. 6. We’d argue that languages really are as much a part of STEM as biology, engineering, information technology, and many other fields.
  7. 7. Language has long been a STEM research subject.
  8. 8. For over 50 years, the federal government has funded R&D in fields such as theoretical and applied linguistics, sociolinguistics, computational linguistics, language acquisition, human language technology, machine translation, and beyond.
  9. 9. This funding has resulted in breakthroughs for both the private and public sectors, such as the basic machine translation tools used throughout industry and government. Image by Matti Mattila on Flickr.com
  10. 10. Language is a high-tech STEM industry.
  11. 11. Human translators and interpreters are no longer mere linguists with thick paper dictionaries; they work alongside computer-aided and automated language tools.
  12. 12. It is impossible to manage the 21st-century content explosion without technology. Localization is now entirely digital, relying on numerous advanced technologies including translation management systems, translation memories, terminology and data mining, complex desktop publishing, content management systems, and machine translation.
  13. 13. U.S. STEM industries depend on the language industry.
  14. 14. Scientists, engineers, and mathematicians are tackling global issues from climate change mitigation to infectious disease prevention. Breakthroughs in these fields don’t typically come from only one lab (or even one country).
  15. 15. While the majority of scientific studies are published in English, but the majority of publishers are not native English speakers. Who knows what may be lost in translation?
  16. 16. Slate provides a humorous but not uncommon example: “Chinese scientists discussing the electrical conductivity of copper nanotubes in a 2007 Royal Society of Chemistry paper, for example, chose a rather unfortunate acronym for the subject of their study. (It rhymes with “runt.”) […] Innocuous to people who don’t know English slang and amusing for culturally immersed Anglophones, but hardly helpful for scientists wishing to be taken seriously.”
  17. 17. Despite all of this, some states are literally voting against languages. Florida, Arizona, and Massachusetts lawmakers are considering allowing a coding language to fulfill foreign language credits in public schools.
  18. 18. Meanwhile, schools from K-12 to university are acknowledging the link between languages and STEM.
  19. 19. In small-town Maryland, Anne Arundel County Public Schools have married the two fields, instructing their K-5 students in STEM subjects in Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish.
  20. 20. The University of Rhode Island’s engineering department offers a 5-year dual degree in engineering and a foreign language, which includes a compulsory year of studying and interning abroad. Northern Arizona University and Valparaiso University have both launched international STEM degrees modeled after the URI program.
  21. 21. In the increasingly globalized economy, students entering the workforce need to be more than technically skilled. They need knowledge about the world: languages, cultures, social systems, and beyond.
  22. 22. Competency in foreign languages opens the doors to international STEM markets and results in more and better communication. In the struggle for education reform, language instruction should not be discounted, particularly by supporters of STEM fields.
  23. 23. We want to help your school district put the FL in your STEM curriculum. Learn more about Transparent Language Online for Education. (No longer in school? You can always learn on your own!)

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