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The Chinese Flagship program

May 8, 2021

So what happens when immersion kids get to college? Here’s one pathway that’s worth knowing about.

The Language Flagship is a public/private program that is an initiative of the National Security Education Program, whose mission is “to develop a pipeline of foreign language and culture expertise for the U.S. federal government workforce.”

The focus has been on language: Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Farsi (Persian), Portuguese and Russian.

The Flagship sponsors twelve Chinese Flagship Programs at colleges and universities across the U.S.; each offers unique strengths and provides undergraduate students with pathways to professional-level proficiency in Chinese alongside the academic major of their choice.

There’s a nice web page here with videos about several of the programs.

Arizona State University
Brigham Young University
Hunter College
Indiana University
San Francisco State University
University of Hawaii, Manoa
University of Minnesota
University of Mississippi
University of North Georgia
University of Oregon
University of Rhode Island
University of Washington
Western Kentucky University

There’s also a Flagship program for K-12 schools, you can find out more here.

And here’s a release from Western Kentucky University about students who won Critical Language Scholarships and one, Ryan Richardson, who is a member of the school’s Chinese Flagship program.

The Language Flagship is now expanding into African languages, including Akan/Twi, French, Swahili, Wolof and Zulu.

The Flagship program in turn is part of the National Security Education Program. Its history goes back 30 years to 1991 when the David L. Boren National Security Education Act mandated the Secretary of Defense create and sustain a program to award scholarships to U.S. undergraduate students; fellowships to U.S. graduate students; and grants to U.S. institutions of higher education.

NSEP was created to develop a partnership between the national security community and higher education, addressing the national need for experts in critical languages and regions.

It’s not that students who do these programs have to go work for the Army or in intelligence, but to increase the number of high-level speakers overall. The Act was one of the most significant efforts in international education since the 1958 passage of the National Defense Education Act.

Much of the increase in immersion programs at the K- 12 level has come from government funding, America’s investment in making sure we remain a polyglot, globally-connected nation that can talk — and listen — to the rest of the world.

Without people to people connections, we can fall prey to misinformation. Here’s to more cross-cultural conversations in the future!

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