The National Center for Education Research created the Foreign Language Education topic in Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 to support research that examines how best to support English-speaking students who are learning a foreign language in school and how proficiency in two or more languages is linked to student education outcomes. Now that the Foreign Language special topic is no longer being competed, the Institute encourages researchers to submit applications pertaining to this category of students to one of the Institute's other grant competitions.
WHY IS RESEARCH ON FOREIGN LANGUAGE EDUCATION STILL NEEDED?
Nationwide, at least 10.5 million students (approximately 1 in 5) are learning a foreign language in United States schools. Several recent national reports and government efforts have pointed to the critical need for U.S. citizens to be proficient in more than one language as a matter of diplomacy, economic competitiveness, global and cultural competence, and national security. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) includes foreign languages in its definition of a well-rounded education (section 8101 (52)), and authorizes state and local education agencies to use Federal funds for foreign language education through Title IV - 21st Century Schools. Additionally, the Defense Language and National Security Education Office (DLNSEO), part of the Department of Defense, has indicated that foreign language education is important for national security.
Learning an additional language may have value in itself, and may also support achievement in other academic content areas. For example, researchers have shown that English-speaking students enrolled in foreign language programs perform as well as, or better than, similar students instructed only in English on academic content assessments in English. Research is needed to explore the relationship between foreign language education and other academic outcomes, cognition functions, and social and behavioral competencies. In addition, more resources and interventions to support foreign language teaching and learning need to be developed and tested for efficacy.
Researchers interested in studying foreign language learning may apply to any NCER grant program as long as their proposed project meets the selected competition’s requirements. The most likely “fit” for research on foreign language education is the Education Research program (84.305A). Even though the Foreign Language Education special topic is no longer available, arts research can fit into other standing topics. For example:
- Research on the association between learning two languages and executive function skills would be a good fit for the Cognition and Student Learning topic.
- Research and development of professional development materials for use in bilingual and dual-language immersion programs would be a good fit for the Effective Instruction topic.
- Studies of the efficacy of foreign language education programs and policies on other academic outcomes would be a good fit for the Reading and Writing or STEM Education topics, depending on the outcomes of interest.