Angela Gardner, OFLA PR and Advocacy Committee Chairperson
In the last edition of The Cardinal, we shared tips for advocating for languages in your building. You can further enhance and support these efforts through some simple tips for advocating for languages and increase their reach and impact by conducting community outreach.
Tip #1-Repurpose those classroom photos
In our last article, we talked about how to snap photos of your students enjoying daily activities and using those photos to attract prospective language students in brochures or displays around the building. Maximize the potential of these photos by sharing them with parents, administrators, and local stakeholders. You can do this through a classroom newsletter, a school-based newsletter, or even through local press outlets. Provide a description of what the focus of the lesson was, and voila, you’ve got a wonderful way to not only celebrate your students’ learning, but also to inform public stakeholders and help educate your local community about practices, products, and perspectives!
Tip #2- Shout from the mountaintops
You know those ah-ha moments, when the light bulb seems to light up over a student’s head? While it’s great to acknowledge that in the moment with the student, just take it a step further and contact his or her parents to celebrate the awesomeness. A quick phone call or email goes a great distance to acknowledge a student’s special efforts, and that student will often be an ally for you for the remainder of the semester. Parents, in my experience, don’t seem to mind when I call to brag and to share the good news about their child’s performance.
Tip #3- Serve to learn while you learn to serve
One wonderful way to make your program indispensable to your community is through engaging in service-learning projects. This can be done with support from grants, if desired, or can be as simple as organizing a few readers from your classes to come read from bilingual books in a local library. You could also run a free-of-charge language day for younger students, whether it be puppet show performances with games and crafts on a one-day event, or as an ongoing, weekly event. An added bonus to these free activities is that they help younger students gain enthusiasm for these events, and older students enjoy the opportunity to be the experts and share their knowledge and skills.
Even if you choose to focus on just one tip, you’re helping to create a sustainable language learning program in your community, an impact that can ripple outward to support language learners in your community and beyond. Keep up the excellent work, Ohio!