The Flagship History

The Language Flagship began as a small pilot project to challenge a few U.S. universities to build programs of advanced language education. The first Flagship grants were awarded in 2002, and the challenge was great: create advanced programs of language study and graduate students with professional proficiency. The languages chosen were Korean, Arabic, Russian, and Chinese.

Although the first Flagship programs were designed for post-baccalaureate students, in 2006 The Language Flagship introduced undergraduate Flagship programs at all of its Flagship Centers. By doing so, the Flagship model now addresses the needs of students around the nation who are motivated to gain professional proficiency in language during their undergraduate studies.

The goal of The Language Flagship is not only to graduate students at a professionally proficient level of language but also to “push the model” down to elementary, middle, and high schools. The Flagship K–12 Initiatives aim to prepare students to enter college with an established and measurable skill in a second language. The integration of language skills into K–12 education is vital to our capacity to educate a citizenry prepared to address the nation’s well-being in the 21st century. These programs provide national models of articulated curricula designed to graduate high school students at the advanced level of proficiency. The Language Flagship currently boasts 31 Flagship Centers, providing a pathway to professional-level proficiency in Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, and Turkish.

The goals of The Language Flagship are ambitious. We seek to empower a small but rapidly expanding group of innovators to develop and implement new models of undergraduate language learning and to diffuse these models throughout higher education. Through our efforts and those of other critical federal, state, and local programs, we aim to lead a national movement that will impact students throughout the nation.