A few weeks back, Stacey Vanden Bosch had the pleasure of interviewing Amelia Friedman, founder of Student Language Exchange (SLE), about the future of language education. If you’re not familiar with the work of SLE, here’s Amelia explaining why she founded the organization:
“I realized that many of the most spoken languages worldwide— Javanese, Lahnda, Telugu, Malay— are completely missing from academic curricula. And that’s not just building a language deficit, but a cultural one as well. The next generation of Americans is not being equipped with the cultural and linguistic tools they need to be full collaborators on the international stage. That’s a problem and an urgent one.
“In an attempt to increase language learning across the board, but especially in these often-forgotten languages, I founded the Student Language Exchange. At SLE, we harness an underutilized resource on college campuses— the knowledge, experience, and social reach of international students.
“By mobilizing these students to run semester-long, not-for-credit courses introducing groups of their peers to their language and culture, we fill gaps in curricula and prepare students to build collaborative solutions to the world’s most pressing social, economic, political, and environmental challenges. We have run programs in over thirty languages (Bengali, Swahili, Vietnamese, Haitian Creole) at Brandeis, Brown, Columbia, Tufts, Williams, and Vassar. Program graduates have started impactful social enterprises, launched advocacy programs, built online or in-person language learning communities, conducted innovative research projects in the region, and more.”
We’re excited about the work Student Language Exchange is doing and are always happy to find allies in the field of language education advocacy. It’s our belief that when you add.a.language, you really do add.a.world.
We want to see SLE’s work grow and flourish, and we want to graduate multilingual students to lead and participate in the on-campus forums SLE hosts. So you see those spiffy t-shirts the add.a.lingua team is sporting at the top of this post? We’re making them for sale for twenty dollars, with all the proceeds benefiting our friends at Student Language Exchange.
If you’d like to get one of these high quality shirts (Michigan and U.S. versions available) and help advocate language learning in your school and on college campuses through the work of SLE–just get in touch with us using our contact form, or leave a comment below and we’ll follow up with you. And just to sweeten the deal, if you share a picture of yourself wearing the shirt using #addalanguage on twitter or Facebook, we’ll send an extra $1 to SLE. Happy shopping!