Advocacy, It’s Everyone’s Job!

Carol Eiber, OFLA President 2011-2012

At the 2012 Central States Conference two experts in Advocacy shared their ideas in two different presentations. Lisa Lilley, ACTFL 2010 Teacher of the Year, and Phyllis Farrar, then chair of the CSCTFL Advocacy Committee, both presented excellent ideas for promoting, publicizing, and perhaps saving your program. Their suggestions are summarized here, in no particular order, along with ideas from other now forgotten sources. They do not cost money and can be used in any teaching context.

  • Wear lanyards and pins that promote language learning. What about a bumper sticker? Have your students make them for foreign language week.
  • Use an electronic signature that emphasizes the importance of learning another language; use it on your website and syllabus, wherever you can.
  • Share what you know in tweets, postings, emails, texts, however you communicate. Copy, paste, and forward those bits of useful information.
  • Make sure your school’s web site promotes your program and your students’ activities.
  • A classroom newsletter and updates in the school/PTA newsletter help to highlight your program.
  • Make sure your program has bulletin board space for displaying student work. Think along the lines of a trophy case display or Wall of Honor.
  • Be ready for Open House/Parents’ Night. Devote some time to educate the parents on the careers available to those who are proficient in another language and culture. Highlight your graduated students’ successes.  Start at the beginning level and show what the students will be able to do at the end of their course of study. Anecdotes of success will help sell your program.
  • Get excited about language teaching to your students as well as parents and the public. You have one of the best jobs in the world; let them know how exciting it is!
  • Enlist your students’ help; have them enter promotional contests or create a contest (poster contest, post card contest) for foreign language week.
  • Publicize any student travel experiences in the local newspapers and school newspaper. Use their positive quotes!
  • Cultivate relationships with the decision makers from the start.  Serve on committees to build your credibility with the administrators and other teachers.  Invite them to your students’ in-class presentations, to language week activities, to language club activities.
  • Host a breakfast meeting for the counselors and inform them about the importance of learning another language as you pass the doughnuts and coffee. Remind them of college requirements.
  • Invite administrators and decision makers to your classroom to show them that language methodology has changes. Have them witness performance assessments for real-life tasks.
  • Take pictures of student activities (with proper permission) and send them to the local papers. The editors are always looking for good local news!
  • Be ready with your own two-minutes elevator speech; have your talking points ready on the benefits of language learning, the career opportunities available, and the social development that comes from learning about cultures other than our own.
  • Be ready to provide the “can do” statements about what your students can do in the language.

Be prepared to contact your elected representatives.  You can write, email, telephone, or set up an appointment to visit; they all require thoughtful preparation.

  • Identify the issue clearly with a positive perspective.
  • State your position, why you care, how it will affect you, your students, your school, your state.
  • Tell the decision make what you would like him/her to do.
  • Thank the person for their time or attention and provide contact information should they have questions.

You may find your elected representative or state senator by following one of these links:

It is still early in the school year.  Take some of these ideas and do what you can, but be sure to DO SOMETHING!


This entry was posted in Advocacy, OFLA News: Association, Vol. 53, No. 1 - Fall 2014. Bookmark the permalink.

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