Wisconsin's top teacher touts the benefits of teaching world languages to our kids for their success in the 21st century.  

State Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster says she's very proud of our world language educators in Wisconsin. She says our state puts a lot of emphasis on global literacy, with over 50% of our students in grades six through 12 studying a language other than English.

"As we look at the skills that will be needed for the 21 st century in our interconnected world, the ability to communicate in other languages is going to be critical."

Burmaster says it's important that more of our students study world languages and they need to begin at younger ages, and continue for at least a few years, with four years being optimal. Burmaster says that will get our kids ready for college and beyond.

"These are all efforts that help to develop global literacy which will be a very important skill for all students as they move into the workforce after graduating from high school and higher education."

Burmaster says there are predominately ten languages that are taught throughout Wisconsin. She says the leadership at the Department of Public Instruction is working with a federal grant to advance world languages, and the DPI is embarking on a Chinese initiative. Although the DPI provides leadership, local school districts decide which languages they want to offer their students.

NOTE: State Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster addressed participants in the Summer Language Leadership Institute on Wednesday at the Pyle Center on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report (1:32 MP3)

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