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.
Located at an urban minority-serving Title III and Title V research university, the Center for Urban Language Teaching and Research (CULTR) remains a staunch advocate for the importance of language learning for all. A core value, CULTR’s advocacy initiatives aim to increase awareness of the national need and support for language education and global skills preparation among parents, schools, communities, and the private sector.
Funding Cycle Projects
Guided by its core values, CULTR’s initiatives fall into four central objectives: professional development, career readiness, advocacy, research. Regarding advocacy, CULTR promotes awareness of the national need for language education and cultivates increased support for language education and global skills preparation among parents, schools, communities, and the private sector. The following projects are laid out in the 2018-2022 funding cycle.
A1: Global Languages Leadership Meeting (GLLM)
At this unique event, a diverse group of industry leaders from business, nonprofit, government, and education converge to forge collaborations that promote language learning and cultural competence for a bourgeoning global workforce. Invited attendees include school leaders, legislators, representatives from government agencies, as well as businesses and NGOs with international initiatives. Participants will meet to discuss, advocate for, and promote language learning throughout the K-16 educational continuum. GLLM materials, including videos of the keynote, and reports will be posted on the CULTR website. The GLLM initiative will result in a Global Skills Profiles database, a searchable archive of industry profiles with information specific to the connection between industry success and language opportunities
A2: Development of Infographics
To assist educators in sharing and demonstrating the benefits of language learning with fellow teachers, students, and policymakers, CULTR has begun to develop free and downloadable infographics. As a tool for teaching, learning, and advocacy, CULTR’s infographics constitute a powerful way to share information. Infographics, a visual representation of data or knowledge, have been shown to improve cognition by enhancing human’s ability to see patterns and trends. For this reason, infographics, when correctly utilized, are a compelling medium for communicating complex data quickly and clearly. In this proposal, CULTR allocates funds specifically to support increased development and dissemination of infographics. The deliverables for this project include not only the downloadable infographics but also a toolkit for teachers to assist them in integrating them into the classroom and curriculum.
A3: Family and Community Toolkit
During its first cycle of funding, CULTR developed toolkits to prepare event participants for the experience and offer additional resources, as well as strategies, for event-related lesson planning. While events like World Languages Day target high school students and projects like STARTALK aim to reach elementary school-age learners, this toolkit will be designed specifically for middle school students. Materials will offer families—especially those in lower socioeconomic areas or metropolitan Atlanta—strategies to advocate for the support of language programs at their schools. CULTR has been in communication with the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) in the U.S. Department of Education and will model the Family Toolkit on what the OELA has developed for English-language learners. The purpose of the Family Toolkit developed by CULTR is to address the opportunity gap in language education by empowering families who lack the education, experience, or political or social capital to promote language education at their schools and in their districts. With information about careers and salaries, talking points, and strategies to determine effectiveness in language programs, families will be better equipped to advocate for a curriculum that will make all students, irrespective of race and socioeconomic status, global ready.
A4: Family and Community Language Information Camp
Following the ParentCamp model established by the U.S. Department of Education, this initiative seeks to directly engage parents and leaders in urban communities in discussing their children’s access to language programs and global skills training, while also highlighting the many benefits of language learning for students of all ages and from all backgrounds. CULTR recognizes that parents and the broader community are vital components of the education ecosystem and seeks to empower families from lower socioeconomic backgrounds with information, data, and talking points to advocate on their children’s behalf for greater access to high-quality language education. The Family and Community Language Camp will be a free, one-day unconference held at a local school. The event will provide an opportunity for those within the school ecosystem—parents, teachers, students, as well as community and faith-based representatives—to expand relationships, strengthen partnerships, share, network, and learn. The Family and Community Toolkit (developed in Project A3) will be presented as a printed resource to all attendees, and serve to provide CULTR with additional feedback regarding relevance, usefulness, and design of the materials that can be collected and integrated into subsequent versions of the toolkits and camps.
CULTR will participate in a collaborative project that will be supported by several LRCs, ACTFL, and the Language Flagship Technology Innovation Center. This collaboration results in a live TED Talk-style type event held at the annual ACTFL Convention and World Languages Expo. The purpose of the event is to highlight interesting or promising intersections between language and various fields. The event will feature 3 to 5 high-profile speakers who will give concise and focused talks under 30 minutes. Talks will address the value of learning languages and linguistic diversity from various perspectives, such as language conservation, neuroscience, the economics of language, etc. Local media will be invited to the talks. The deliverables for this project include professional-grade recordings of the presentations which will be posted on a shared website. The recordings will not only constitute a source of information that may attract general interest and media focus to the importance of world languages but also serve as an open resource for use in world language education settings. ACTFL will provide the venue and publicity while the Language Flagship Technology Innovation Center and the NFLRC at the University of Hawai’i Mānoa will provide support for logistics, such as professional video recording, logo and slide design, event coordination, project website, etc.