Closing the Language Gap: Improving the Federal Government's Foreign Language Capabilities Hearing Before the Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia Subcommittee of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, United States Senate, One Hundred Eleventh Congress, Second Session, July 29, 2010   [open pdf - 7MB]

From the opening statement of Daniel K. Akaka: "Today's hearing will examine the Federal Government's foreign language capabilities and needs, particularly at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Defense (DOD). We will examine these Departments' language efforts and explore how best to help meet the challenges of strengthening foreign language skills. Foreign language skills are necessary to provide vital services to people with limited English abilities. Because of the rich cultural and linguistic diversity in my home State of Hawaii, I understand well the need to communicate about disaster relief, social services, and other government programs in a variety of languages. Understanding foreign languages is also vital to our economic security as Americans compete in the global marketplace. According to the Committee for Economic Development, American companies can lose an estimated $2 billion each year due to inadequate cross-cultural skills. Moreover, foreign language proficiency and cultural understanding are essential to protecting our national security. Threats to our national security are becoming more complex, interconnected, and unconventional. These evolving threats have increased Federal agencies' needs for employees proficient in foreign languages." Statements, letters, and materials submitted for the record include those of the following: Daniel K. Akaka, David C. Maurer, Jeffrey R. Neal, Nancy Weaver, David S. Chu, Richard D. Brecht, Dan E. Davidson, Colleen M. Kelley, and Phil McKnight.

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