Lessons From Libya: Why America Needs More Language Teachers (PBS)


In an opinion piece on PBS, Colleen Glenney Boggs, director of the Leslie Center for the Humanities, and an associate professor of English and of women’s and gender studies, talks about the importance of language in diplomacy, and says the United States needs more language teachers in order to attain its goals overseas as well as at home.

She writes about the late U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, who was killed in the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya, as an example of a diplomat  “reaching out to people on their own terms.” He won the hearts and minds of many Libyans, thousands of whom mourned his death, because he knew their language and their customs, Boggs writes.

“Our national security and success in foreign affairs requires massive reinvestment in language teaching at American schools and universities. We don’t just need math and science teachers, as President Obama argued; we also need Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Spanish and other language teachers. … Language learning is not an elite or useless enterprise; it needs to be a hallmark of American democracy in its global reach,” she writes.

Read the full story published 11/6/12 on Need to Know on PBS.

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