Introduction to the Hawai‘i Language Roadmap Initiative
Responding to Congressional interest in 2006, the federal agency, the National Security Education Program’s (NSEP) The Language Flagship developed and coordinated a pilot language roadmap effort. Since then, five states have produced “Language Roadmaps” for how best to respond to the call for their educational systems to shape young professionals with the language and cultural skills that their companies and government agencies call for. In December 2012, Hawai‘i became the sixth state invited to undertake a Roadmap initiative. The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, with strong interest from then Governor Abercrombie’s office, took charge of coordinating the Hawai‘i Language Roadmap Initiative. The initiative set out to promote the development of a multilingual workforce for Hawai‘i that values input from both employers and educators in order to respond to the demands of its increasingly diverse population and to compete in a global economy.
With co-sponsorship from NSEP’s The Language Flagship, the multi-month process brought together stakeholders from education, government, business and the NGO sector to assess the state’s language needs and create sustainable and applicable solutions designed to meet those needs. On September 16, 2013, the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa launched the Hawai‘i Language Roadmap Initiative with the support of nearly 100 stakeholders from private and non-governmental industry sectors as well as numerous state and county agencies. The Hawai‘i Language Roadmap with its eight signature initiatives guides the Initiative’s efforts to create policies and effect actions that promote the creation of a competitive multilingual workforce for the state.
The efforts make Hawai‘i a key contributor to a robust national effort to meet the nation’s demand for multilingual workforce. To date, Language Roadmaps have been produced in Ohio, Oregon, Texas, and Utah, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and Indiana.