Calling All Educators: Language Advocacy Toolkit
Empower your students to speak up in support of language education! Mobilize your team by trying an activity below.
We know that advocacy is something that you, as a language educator, do every day—both inside your classroom and as part of your greater community. As we work together to make language education a national priority, Lead with Languages has compiled some concrete ways for you, your students, and your school to join the movement.
In addition to spreading the word about the important connections between language learning and college or career readiness with your school guidance counselors and college advisors (go ahead and share the video above!), encourage your students to explore and use LeadWithLanguages.org and our social media channels. They’ll find many resources as well as a vibrant platform on which to engage with peers and language enthusiasts.
Here are just a few ways that you and your students can “Lead with Languages”:
Discover New Resources: Virtual Scavenger Hunt
- Want students—including younger learners—to discover all that Lead with Languages has to offer firsthand? Have your students compete individually or in groups to complete our Site Scavenger Hunt!
- Here are 10 suggested questions to get your class started (Download the PDF).
- Recognizing that the answers are variable and may change, you may wish to assign a student leader to check answers or to review together by class consensus. Should your students require clues or further guidance, we have provided for your reference links corresponding to each question (Download the clue sheet PDF).
Share Your Story
- Get Social!
Encourage students—or make it a class activity—to follow @LeadWLanguages on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for news and information about the role and value of languages in today’s global economy and society, as well as student-centered contests that they won’t want to miss. Also urge them to join the ongoing conversation by sharing how they recently used their language and tagging #LeadwithLanguages (see this post).
- Create a Video
Have students create a video of up to 60 seconds that explains why learning languages is important to them. (See guidelines for smartphones here; for students under 18 years old, have a parent or guardian complete our release form as well.) Submit the videos to Lead with Languages via our contact form for possible inclusion on our site and across social channels. Watch this example for inspiration! Why not start a contest to see who can create the most compelling video? Seeking a step further? Have students share their 60-second stories in their target language with a classmate or in a small group.
- Become a Blogger
Ask students to write a brief, blog-style essay (200-300 words) about what inspires them to learn a language (see Nithya’s post about how anime led her to study Japanese), describe an immersion experience (see Charlie’s conversation with a multilingual train conductor), or conduct a Q&A with a native speaker in their family or community. Then let us know about it: We’re always looking for quality student-created content for our News & Views blog!
- Be Our Guest
We’re interviewing students, teachers, and school counselors about why language learning is important to personal and professional growth. Know students or colleagues to whom we should be speaking? Send us an email at LeadWithLanguages@actfl.org including their names and a description, and we might feature their story on our blog next! And be sure to share existing “Ask Away: 5 Questions” interviews with your classes (full listing here).
Celebrate Success Stories
- Get your students to listen to America the Bilingual, a biweekly, narrative-driven podcast about Americans and the paths they take to language proficiency. Consider having students produce their own podcast centered on someone who speaks another language. Or ask them to discuss aspects of a particular America the Bilingual episode in their target language in pairs. For a helpful index of episodes by conversation topic, see here.
Check Out Languages & Careers
- The more students understand the demand and relevance for languages in the job market, the more many will be motivated to pursue language studies. Share the facts about the importance of language skills to careers across various sectors, including government and teaching a language.
- Ask students to find openings for positions requiring their languages of interest using sites like CareerBuilder, Indeed.com, Monster Jobs, or others. There’s nothing like seeing an actual job opening requiring language skills to appreciate their value! And be sure to check out our Twitter page for several new vacancies we spotlight each week.
- Expand the teacher recruitment pipeline! Register online and explore ACTFL’s Educators Rising Initiative with your classes to introduce students to language teaching as a career. ACTFL has developed five ready-to-use modules for leading classroom activities to start the conversation—including a teacher checklist, links to articles and videos, presentations, discussion topics, and more!
Provide a Starting Point
- Ask students to select a few of their favorite Myths & Misconceptions or Top Ten Reasons to Learn Languages and present them to a classmate or with a small group in their target language. Or, early in the academic year, use these pages (alongside age-specific pages, such as Middle & High School or College & University) to launch a class-wide discussion and Q&A as a great way to anchor students’ understanding of the importance of language skills and get them motivated.
- Encourage college-bound juniors and seniors to become familiar with the MLA Enrollment Database for information about 2- and 4-year college programs (organized by language and/or by state), as well as American Councils for International Education’s interactive maps of K-12 and K-16 language enrollment in the U.S. And let them know that there are numerous scholarships available for students—both majors and non-majors alike—who are interested in pursuing language studies.
- Inform and motivate your students about summer language programs as well as study, internship, and gap year abroad opportunities. Have them use our Summer Programs or Study Abroad Programs pages to identify a program of potential interest to them. Remind students not to let finances dissuade them from considering an exciting experience at home or overseas: Many programs offer need-based scholarships.
- If the Seal of Biliteracy is offered in your state, encourage seniors to apply.
Start a Lead with Languages Speakers Series
- Invite professionals working in the public, private, and non-profit sectors from your community to speak to your class (and/or school) about the vital role of language skills to their careers. Consider financial institutions, courts, your local FBI or law enforcement office, hospitals, retailers, and other local companies among the countless organizations that depend on employees with language skills. If you need help coming up with ideas:
- Do a search on one of the many job boards listed above for open positions in your area that require language skills: You’ll have your pick of organizations to which you can reach out.
- Ask past alumni about the role language plays in their current endeavors.
- For K-12 classes: Inquire at a local college language department about undergrads who would be interested in speaking with your class.
We look forward to hearing from you!
Join the conversation at LeadWithLanguages.org/Community to share more activities, advocacy ideas, and even challenges with fellow educators.