Language summit to address Wisconsin’s multilingual workforce needs

Leaders from Wisconsin’s business, human service, K–16 education, community, and government sectors will meet to discuss language and cultural competencies and their role in the state’s economic success.

The invitation-only Wisconsin Language Summit will take place on Jan. 26 at the Fluno Center in Madison, where stakeholders will identify Wisconsin’s current and future multilingual workforce needs. Among the objectives of the summit are discussing the value of languages on both state and national levels, as well as the role of language skills in bolstering the state’s economic competitiveness. Additionally, attendees will review Wisconsin’s current K–16 educational capacities in world languages and work together to develop recommendations for future directions for K­–16 world language education.

The summit is an important milestone in the Wisconsin Language Roadmap Initiative, which is funded by a two-year grant from The Language Flagship of the National Security Education Program in the United States Department of Defense. The Wisconsin Language Roadmap Initiative seeks to improve the economic competitiveness and vitality of the state through language education.

Wisconsin follows in the steps of six states that implemented the Language Roadmap Initiative supported by this grant. Utah State Senator Howard A. Stephenson, who will deliver the summit’s keynote, will discuss Utah’s success implementing a language roadmap and investing in language education at the state level. Those addressing the summit include Tony Evers, Wisconsin state superintendent of Public Instruction; Michael Nugent, director of the Defense Language and National Security Education Office; and Rebecca Blank, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin–Madison; along with Wisconsin business and community leaders such as S. Mark Tyler, president of OEM Fabricators, Inc.; Christopher Gutman, managing director, Red Arrow International; and Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, chief diversity officer, UW Health.

“Developing and implementing a language roadmap for Wisconsin positions the state for future success,” said Dianna Murphy, associate director of the UW–Madison Language Institute and Russian Flagship program and co-director of the Wisconsin Language Roadmap Initiative. “Bolstering our state’s workforce through increased language and cultural competence allows for increased competitiveness in global markets and the ability to engage diverse communities in more meaningful ways.”

Pam Delfosse, summit co-chair and international education and world languages consultant at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, anticipates meaningful outcomes from this event.

“Wisconsin students need to be prepared for the world,” Delfosse said. “Developing high levels of language proficiency takes time. We hope the summit will result in partnerships for policies and programs designed to support equity in access to the benefits of bilingualism.”

The Wisconsin Language Summit is co-sponsored by UW–Madison, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, the Language Flagship and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. The Wisconsin Language Roadmap Initiative is a joint project of the UW–Madison Language Institute and the International Division, with support from the College of Letters and Science.

More information regarding the Wisconsin Language Summit and the Wisconsin Language Roadmap Initiative can be found at