What is advocacy?
At its core, advocacy seeks to guarantee people, especially those who are most vulnerable in society, to have the ability to express their voices on issues that are important to them, guard and protect their rights, and have their views and wishes fully measured when decisions are being made about their lives. Advocacy enables people to share their views and concerns, access information and services, promote their rights and responsibilities, and explore choices and options.
CULTR’s role in foreign language advocacy
Serving as the only Title VI Language Resource Center in the Southeast, the Center for Urban Language Teaching and Research (CULTR) remains a staunch advocate for the importance of foreign language learning throughout our communities.
Operating on local, state, and national levels, CULTR aims to provide advocacy support at a time when foreign language education in the United States is at a critical point. Our LRC helps urban teachers and students while shaping the direction of education in the United States by providing access to information, resources, and the tools to appropriately advocate for foreign language learning.
How can your organization get more involved in advocacy?
The more your organization or community knows about your foreign language program, the more likely it is that the program will be maintained. An advocacy program will be most successful by properly fulfilling three pillars of advocacy:
Education Inform your organization about the current policies and problems affecting your community.
Evaluation Evaluate your organization’s mission and goals, and examine whether current programs involve advocacy as a means to address problems or grievances in the community. If not, how could advocacy play a larger role in your organization’s programs?
Collaboration Work in coalitions with groups whose philosophy and goals resonate with yours. Together, pooling staff and resources, all parties involved in the coalition should be better equipped to take on campaigns and work for change.
Become an Advocate
Become an empowered advocate for language education through partnering organizations, wide-ranging support resources, current research in the field, and communication with your federal, state, and local elected leaders.
Connect with Elected Officials
The following tools and guideline are here to help anyone connect with their national, state, and local representatives. Although the process may seem daunting at first, it is important to remember that these legislators are just regular people who have the job of being your voice in government. As with anyone, treat these individuals with respect and be courteous of their time.
The following widget, powered by Countable, allows people to directly reach out to their lawmakers. Countable, also available as a free smartphone application (iOS, Android) , provides people with summaries of upcoming and active legislation, a platform to tell lawmakers how you want them to vote, and follow up on the process.
Presented by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), the following resources promote language advocacy:
Participants have the ability to find and contact local, state, and national political representatives. Options to view issues, legislation, elections, and media contacts are also included.
Advocacy tools including a template by elected official, strategies on how to meet with a political representative, and points on promoting languages to state supervisors.
Effective advocacy requires knowledge about the various legislative and regulatory processes, as well as how to work with organizations, build strong coalitions, and connect with elected officials, colleagues, parents, and students. The following resources form a toolkit for anyone and everyone to become a language advocate.
JNCL-NCLIS and ACTFL
JNCL-NCLIS works with the $15b US language services industry to promote language education and standards. This portal highlights these efforts with available resources and events.
This source includes a variety of support including a state advocacy toolkit, a list of partnering organizations, and advocacy tips listed in ACTFL's The Language Educator.
To build a better understanding of the needs related to teachers, students, and the careers related to language education, knowledge is power. Staying up-to-date on the current trends and research in language education allows advocates to more effectively work for change. The following section pushes for an informed base of support through downloadable and free resources for all.
Resources include the recent report offering recommendations to improve access to as many languages as possible, for people of every age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background.
Identifying some of the major correlation studies that highlight how language learners benefit from their experiences, this source presents numerous benefits of language learning.
Learn about the national interests, needs, and impact of language education through the issues pushed by JNCL-NCLIS’s lobbying and public awareness efforts.