Advocating for our Early Language Programs:
from May 22, 2019
On May , language teachers from grades K-8, and beyond, met for the biweekly EarlyLang chat. Participants discussed ways to advocate for #earlylang programs, inspiring students to be advocates, and offered advice to keep programs in danger of being cut. They also gave suggestions for involving stakeholders in advocacy.
Q1: What projects, activities, and achievements inspire children to advocate for their own language learning?
There are so many ways to inspire students to become advocates. Many are already curious about languages and the world, they only need the opportunity to become involved. Students become excited when they can use the TL in class and out, use activities like songs, books, and games to encourage them to use the language that they already know. They become very enthusiastic when they can create with language.
Using an online portfolio, such as Seesaw, can encourage students as they track their progress. Giving the lower grades a preview of what older students will keep them interested in language learning, too.
Q2: How can we get other stakeholders (parents, administration) involved in championing language learning?
Partner with parents as they are often very willing to learn and help out. Keep them informed of their children’s progress, activities such as festivals or concerts that are not school-based, and explain what are realistic expectations for language acquisition. Finally, share resources on benefits of language learning and encourage students to show what they know at home.
Q3: What advocacy points help you communicate the importance of #earlylang programming and combat faulty perspectives?
It’s all about information. Explain proficiency as well as immersion and exposure programs in order to help establish realistic expectations for all concerned. Discuss how language learning can lead to the global perspective which is so important to future opportunities for students. Provide statistics on how language learning improves cognitive abilities. Finally, emphasize that learning another language does not impede L1 or other literacy acquisition, but that it takes time to develop.
Q4: What are specific examples of advocacy you’ve seen from #earlylang advocates?
@madamelitten, “it’s education. Communities need to know why (early) language is important. When we expanded our grade 4-6 French program all the way down to K 4 years ago, we researched and armed ourselves with information. The community supported it is because we educated them #earlylang.”
@AnnaDalman, “on the state level, phone calls to reps. MI is considering potentially eliminating the hs FL requirement. State and nat’l advocacy is important too! #earlylang.”
@MundodePepita, “Connect with your state language association to ensure FLES is part of the picture & part of the conversation-they often advocate at the state level . In addition to NNELL, I have bee@n collecting links to research & advocacy points for #earlylang along w links to the language acquisition process to be able to educate parents on realistic expectations- here’s the post: http://bit.ly/elemlang.”
@SECottrell, “My children go to the only dual immersion school in @JCPSKY and the school is going through a process to actually change its name. Powerful advocacy, to change the school name to showcase focus on #earlylang.”
@nathanlutz, “START a program: https://www.leadwithlanguages.org/language-advocacy/start-a-language-program/ … EXPAND a . program: https://www.leadwithlanguages.org/language-advocacy/expand-a-language-program/ … SAVE a program: https://www.leadwithlanguages.org/language-advocacy/save-a-language-program/ … #earlylang
Q5: What advice can you give someone whose program is in peril of being cut?
Most participants mentioned enlisting parents as advocates. School boards and administrators often listen to parents first, even more than teachers. Educate parents on the benefits of language learning; they want the best possible education for their children and can be encouraged to contact administrators and attend board meetings to ask that language programs continue. Other suggestions include gathering research to help the public understand the positive impact on all learning and finding ways for students to demonstrate their proficiency.
Reflaction = reflect + action: Knowing what you do now, how will you go about advocating for early language learning?
Advocacy never ends. It is ongoing, even for well-established programs. Some suggestions included to showcase student learning, explain the benefits of language learning to all stakeholders, and to seize any opportunity to discuss the importance of language learning for students.
Thank you to all who participated in this #EarlyLang chat! Thank you to our moderator, Nathan Lutz (@nathanlutz), for helping to guide the conversation. Thanks also to EMC School (@EMCSCHOOL) for sponsoring the chat. Finally, thanks to all who participated in our chats throughout the year. Your willingness to share your experiences and expertise is helpful beyond this forum. Thanks for all that you do to support your #earlylang learners and colleagues. As you begin your summer breaks, please take some time for you. Give yourself a break to recharge your batteries and rest. You have earned it! Here is a list to get you started https://tinyurl.com/y5s7r2t7
Want to vote for our upcoming #Earlylang topics? https://t.co/l1VbHqzLU1