Not enough people speak a foreign language in the US.

A recent report by the Commission on Language Learning of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences calls for increased attention to foreign language education in the US, as “proficiency in English is not sufficient to meet the nation’s needs in a shrinking world”. According to US Census data, only about 20.5% of the population speak a language other than English, and only about 10% speak that second language well. The AAAS report cites business and government sources to emphasize the competitive limitations of a workforce with little or no oral proficiency in a second language, and acknowledges that this language de cit “has threatened priorities in national security, diplomacy, and economic competitiveness”.

Additionally, 9,4% (or an estimated 4.6 million) public school students are English Language Learners (ELL) enrolled in courses to improve their proficiency – they need to speak English well to function in society. These students and their instructors face the same challenges when it comes to speaking in the classroom as those English- speaking students enrolled in foreign language courses. Two key obstacles that the AAAS report highlights are the shortage of qualified language teachers and the lag in technological innovations to streamline foreign language.

In order to meet the US need for a workforce that is proficient in more than one language, more pedagogically-sound tools are needed to enhance foreign language education in areas with a short supply of teachers. Extempore taps this opportunity by making the process of obtaining and evaluating foreign language students’ oral assignments more efficient.

Extempore solves the shortcomings of available web-based tools at a fraction of the cost of purchasing, installing and maintaining a language lab. To ensure spontaneous responses, the app allows instructors to control the time that lapses between the student seeing a prompt and the start of the recording. To streamline le management and allow for students’ self-assessment of their progress, all student recordings and instructor feedback are stored and managed in the cloud.