ABSTRACT: A series of national and state reports containing recommendations for improving education has prompted a reassessment of the status and goals of education in the nation and in individual states. In the context of educational reform proposals, second language and international studies gain greatest attention when discussions center on their role in economic development and national security.
This paper addresses that situation from a national viewpoint and adds a state perspective with the example of developments in Illinois. Relevant statistics on international trade and the labor market are cited, and the role of language proficiencies in science, technology, and research for economic development is defined. Two converging trends are outlined: the trend toward a consensus in both the education and business communities regarding the essential role and accelerating demand for language and international proficiencies in interconnected state, national, and world economies, and the corresponding trend in higher education toward internationalized curricula, characterized by combinations of majors in professional disciplines such as business, economics, law, and agriculture with second language studies.