This article is from a paper with a fairly narrowly focussed audience, but the article contained a couple of points concerning language education. Dr. H. James Owen is the Piedmont Community College President, and he was among a delegation of American college and university presidents who visited Asia to assure those countries that America was still interested in having their students come to visit in the US.
He was particularly impressed, he noted, when he discovered that Asian students learn to speak English at a young age.
This quote was probably reflects what he was shown, classrooms where young people are studying English. Whether they learn or can speak is a totally different event. I hope he is right.
Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Mandarin and Russian in particular are being promoted (by the Bush administration), Owen said, because they are of value to the military, Foreign Service and U.S. companies.
This is the first time that I have heard of these particular foreign languages being promoted, and for these reasons. The rationale for teaching foreign languages in the past has been so that students can better understand and use English. Now they are being promoted to provide useful personell to Uncle Sam and his loyal corporate sponsors. Sounds like a job for the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey.