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The LCTLs and America’s Languages

As the Language Enterprise prepares for the Commission on Languages of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the organizations in the world of Less Commonly Taught Languages need to ensure that they are ready to present themselves to the broader public and policy makers as essential components of responsible 21stcentury world citizenship. The language industry occupies a central place in the world economy; addressing global geopolitics, demographic change, and emerging global challenges such as climate change requires linguistic and cultural human capital. This presentation discusses the state of language in the US in light of the upcoming Commission, and provides concrete steps for LCTL leaders to take to ensure that the LCTLs have a voice in policy decisions at the local and national level.


Dr. William P. Rivers is the Executive Director of the Joint National Committee for Languages and the National Council for Languages and International Studies.


He has more than 20 years of experience in culture and language for economic development and national security, with leadership expertise in research, assessment, program evaluation, and policy development and advocacy. He chairs ASTM Technical Committee F43, Language Services and Products and the U.S. Technical Advisory Group to ISO Technical Committee 232, Training in the Informal Sector.
Before joining JNCL-NCLIS, he served as Chief Scientist at Integrated Training Solutions, Inc., a small business in Arlington, Virginia, where he focused on strategic planning, management, and advanced technologies for language and culture programs in the public sector. While at ITS, he served in a contractor role as the Chief Linguist of the National Language Service Corps.

Prior to working at ITS, he was a founding member of the Center for Advanced Study of Language (CASL) at the University of Maryland, and was a staff member of the National Foreign Language Center from 1994 to 2003.

During his career, Dr. Rivers has also taught Russian at the University of Maryland, worked as a freelance interpreter and translator, and conducted field work in Kazakhstan, where he regularly returns to teach at several universities. He received his PhD in Russian from Bryn Mawr College and his MA, BA, and BS from the University of Maryland. He speaks Russian and French. His email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..