In this podcast episode, the host engages in a conversation with Dr. Bill Rivers, a highly respected advocate for language access and diversity. Dr. Rivers shares his extensive background and sheds light on the importance of acculturation over assimilation, the negative effects of shaming students for speaking their home language, and the challenges faced by language access providers due to insufficient funding. Additionally, he highlights the numerous benefits of being bilingual and emphasizes the need for healthcare providers to prioritize language services. This discussion serves as a powerful reminder of the significance of linguistic diversity in the United States and the ongoing efforts required to ensure language access for all. Tune in to this thought-provoking and informative episode.
Dr. Rivers has more than 30 years’ experience in language advocacy and capacity at the national level, with significant experience in culture and language for economic development and national security. He is the immediate past and founding Chair of ASTM Technical Committee F43, Language Services and Products. Dr. Rivers serves as a member of the America’s Languages Working Group of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is an honorary lifetime member of the Association of Language Companies.
Before establishing WP Rivers & Associates, he served for eight years as the Executive Director of the Joint National Committee for Languages – National Council for Languages and International Studies, leaving a legacy of significant legislative and policy accomplishments. Prior to his service at JNCL-NCLIS, he served as Chief Scientist at Integrated Training Solutions, Inc., a defense contractor in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, and Arlington, Virginia. While at ITS, he served in a contractor role as the founding Chief Linguist of the National Language Service Corps, a field activity of the OUSD(P/R), with oversight of all language issues in the NLSC. Prior to working at ITS, he was a founding member of the Center for Advanced Study of Language (CASL) at the University of Maryland, the Nation’s first Federally-funded research center for language, cognition, and national security. While at CASL, Dr. Rivers led R&D work at DLIFLC.
During his career, Dr. Rivers has also taught Russian (beginning through advanced), graduate courses in research methods, language policy, and second language acquisition at the and worked as a freelance interpreter and translator (English<>Russian). He received his PhD in Russian from Bryn Mawr College and his MA (Russian Linguistics), BA (Russian) and BS (Aerospace Engineering) from the University of Maryland. He speaks Russian and French at the C1 level, and Irish, German, and Spanish at the B1 level.
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