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Maryland Language Advocates: Don’t Allow Coding to Replace World Languages!

Updated: Jul 17, 2019

Update, Mar. 7, 2019

You have a unique and valuable perspective about why languages matter in Maryland. With your support, misguided bills like HB 1211, which attempt to equate computer science with language and culture, don’t stand a chance!

Please read the following carefully regarding logistics for Friday’s hearing, which includes discussion on HB1211:

Location: Maryland State House, 6 Bladen St. Annapolis, MD 21401

Hearing Room: Ways and Means Committee Room #130

Start Time: 1:00 PM ET

Please arrive by 11:45 AM — All witnesses wishing to offer oral testimony must be signed-in one hour before the hearing begins. This means you need to have signed up to speak by 12pm – no exceptions are allowed. You will be able to sign-in at the committee hearing room #130. Please allow time for parking and walking to the hearing room (especially if you are unsure of directions).

Oral testimony is limited to three minutes for individuals. The Chair reserves the right to alter this limit so that both proponents and opponents have the opportunity to be heard.

Scroll down to view the sample letter for some ideas (just remember, it needs to be under 3 minutes!) In your statement, if you wish to testify, please start out by sharing a brief personal intro to give the committee an idea of who you are and why this affects you.

Thank you for indicating your willingness to stand up for the teaching of world languages in high schools across Maryland!

We need you to take action! Contact your House Representative using the link below; and sign up to join us in Annapolis for a hearing on HB1211.

BASIC FACT: The study of human language and computer languages impart fundamentally different, yet equal, skill sets. Coding belongs in the math and science curriculum, not alongside foreign languages.

BACKGROUND: The Maryland House of Delegates, Ways and Means Committee has been presented with a bill (HB1211) that would allow county boards of education to authorize students to satisfy certain foreign language requirements by completing a certain course in computer programming language; requiring the State Board of Education to adopt certain regulations to establish certain courses; and generally relating to computer programming language courses that satisfy a foreign language requirement.

A hearing is scheduled in Annapolis, in the Maryland House of Delegates, Ways and Means Committee, in Hearing Room 130 on Friday, March 8 at 1:00 pm. If you wish to contact the members of the committee, their information can be found here. Please contact Mr. Trey Calvin ( at JNCL-NCLIS for more information on testifying in person, or submitting written testimony.

Most importantly, write or call your Delegates NOW to urge them to oppose this bill!

Please send your a brief emailed testimony by March 7 to:;;


Example Letter below. Please feel free to use as needed.

As a concerned resident of your district, and an advocate for all of Maryland’s languages, I write to urge you to oppose HB1211. This bill would allow computer coding classes to replace foreign language classes to meet Maryland’s high school graduation requirements. This is a misguided attempt to replace one college-and-career-readiness skill with another. Extensive evidence points to a national need for language proficiency across a staggering array of professions. As noted in 2017 in America’s Languages, the report of the Congressionally-requested Commission on Language Learning of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, our national language capacity is insufficient to meet the national security and economic needs of the United States.

With respect to National Security, Maryland is home to the world’s largest employer of linguists, the NSA, and a myriad of associated agencies and contractors whose language work keeps the nation and the world safe. After the terror attacks of 9/11, the Federal Government made significant investments in language education in the military language schools and in the broader K-20 educational world. This bill undercuts the efforts of the Federal Government, and sends a negative signal to one of the Free State’s largest and most important employers, regarding the vital work of understanding languages worldwide.

Moreover, proficient communication in English and other languages forms the foundation of a prosperous national and global economy. As the United States continues to globally engage other countries in diplomacy and trade, language plays a crucial role at every step. The private sector has recognized this reality in a survey of U.S. businesses. JNCL-NCLIS and the Michigan State University Collegiate Employment Research Institute found that over half of U.S. businesses track their employees’ language skills; 35% give an advantage to multilingual applicants, and one in six had lost business prospects due to a lack of employees with language skills.

And businesses can’t find applicants with language skills because of the critical lack of K-12 language teachers in 44 states and DC, as reported in the Department of Education’s annual Teacher Shortage Areas. Taking away the opportunity for students to learn another language in their classroom robs them of meaningful interactions with other citizens of other countries. The future of the economy is global, and our nation’s success in it depends on the next generation of leaders to communicate in English AND at least one other language.

Knowledge of a second language has been shown to confer a wide array of cognitive benefits on the individual at ALL stages of life. In early childhood, acquisition of a second language has positive behavioral and developmental effects, including greater cognitive flexibility and improved problem solving. In K-12 schools, language education, particularly the growing trend of dual language immersion, improves tests scores for native English speakers and English learners alike and narrows the achievement gap. For an adult, language proficiency has been associated with stronger executive function in the brain, greater likelihood of recovery from stroke, and delayed onset of Dementia-related ailments. While language learning can happen at any time, studies show that the earlier, the better! Knowledge of a world language pays its dividends over a lifetime.

HB1211 would allow two completely unrelated disciplines to satisfy the same credit. This is dangerous, as it sets a precedent for the same to happen between other unrelated disciplines. In addition, implementing this policy would pose a host of logistical problems in areas such as the allocation of funds to world language departments for curriculum and professional development as well as the acceptance of students’ world language credits at in-state and/or out-of-state universities.

Human language and computer coding are two fundamentally different disciplines that impart different sets of skills necessary for work and life. Human languages each possess more than 1,000,000 words, while computer languages are comprised of less than 100. Learning one, two or more world languages imparts skills of empathy, negotiation, and creativity, which are equal in merit to the gains in logic associated with studying computer sciences.

I urge you to oppose this measure. Thank you for your consideration.

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