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The Emerging Economic Value of Spanish in the U.S. Symposium: Winning the Future--Bilingual Education

The Emerging Economic Value of Spanish in the U.S. Symposium is a forum on the demographic change that the United States is experiencing due to the unprecedented growth of the Hispanic population. The opportunity for greater cooperation and commerce is driven in part by the dramatic increase in the use of Spanish in the United States to the point where there are now approximately 36 million people in the country who speak it. Spanish is now the second language of international communication. Additionally, one out of six U.S. residents is Hispanic, one out of five public school students is Hispanic, and a quarter of children born in the United States is Hispanic. By 2025, over half of American families will be multicultural. By 2050, the United States will be the largest Spanish speaking country in the world. According to estimates made by the U.S. Census Bureau, 132.8 million inhabitants will be Hispanic by 2050, almost three times the current 46.7 million, which means nearly one in three Americans citizens will be Hispanic.

A new corporate paradigm will have to evolve to address this emerging consumer mosaic and help keep the United States on the crest of this wave of demographic change. The Spanish language will be a natural component of the new framework, and the ability to speak Spanish in addition to English will increase in value in schools, media, scientific research, business, politics, and diplomacy.

But how should the United States capitalize on the rising value of Spanish domestically and internationally? How should the U.S. address Spanish in the school system? How are corporations facing this radical multicultural change in the U.S.? How to best manage the impact and growing influence the U.S. Hispanic population has on society, the economy and politics in the U.S.?

This two-day symposium aims to open a national and international dialogue to generate ideas for leveraging these opportunities.

The "Winning the Future: Bilingual Education" panel has the following objectives: Understand the policy on bilingualism in the United States for grades K–12; Hear the experience of a local university that implemented an English/Spanish bilingual education model; Understand strategies for supporting the teaching of Spanish at all levels.

Speakers: Gery Chico, chairman, Illinois State Board of Education; Beatriz Ponce de León, Bilingual Education and World Language Initiative project manager, CPS Office of Language and Cultural Education; Laura Maristany, executive director of Legislative Affairs, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU); Paul Schroeder Rodriguez, professor and chair, Department of World Languages and Cultures, Northeastern Illinois University; Robin Lisboa, division administrator, Illinois State Board of Education; Reyna Hernández, assistant superintendent of English Language Learning and Early Childhood, Illinois State Board of Education. Moderator: Andrew C. Sund, president of Saint Augustine College.

Recorded Friday, December 9, 2011 at the Instituto Cervantes of Chicago.

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