World Language Advocacy-Seeking a Seat at the (Virtual) Table

What will the new academic year bring?  No one can predict the immediate future of education, but we know that very much of what we took for granted in the past will be changed. However, we can be sure that advocacy for the teaching and learning of world languages must be a vital component in any discussion of the future of education. How can we help make our voices heard as districts engage in difficult, time-sensitive conversations about how to deliver instruction effectively and equitably in a Covid-19 environment? Below are action steps and resources to help you advocate for world languages in your districts:

Be informed about the decision-making process in your district.

  • Seek answers to the following questions: Who is involved in the conversations about the possible scenarios for delivering instruction? What options are being considered for the likely changing nature of the course of the virus? What resources are the stakeholders using to inform their decisions? Who is responsible for making the ultimate decisions?
  • Know the recommendations for reopening schools from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Recently issued, Education Forward is a document to help guide Wisconsin educational leaders plan for a safe and equitable return to school for the 2020-21 academic year. Consider how your instruction might look in the various learning scenarios and educational environments outlined.

Consider resources that can help make your case for the importance of World Language learning.

  • Become familiar with the ACTFL position statements. They provide effective advocacy language for current concerns, such as the definition of World Language and what is its role in educating students for future success, how to address diversity and inclusion, the role of technology in language learning, and more.
  • Find a variety of resources at the WAFLT, CSCTFL, and ACTFL advocacy websites.
  • Inform yourself about the benefits of a bilingual brain through up-to-date articles provided at the Global Seal of Biliteracy.

Be prepared to demonstrate how you can teach effectively in various learning environments.

  • Review the Wisconsin Academic Standards for World Languages, which provide a vision for what students should know and be able to do with their language and cultural knowledge and skills. With the focus on the student, the learning environment and instructional delivery might vary, but students should still have access to meaningful and comparable learning outcomes and opportunities.  Standard 4-Intercultural Communication and Standard 5-Global Competency and Community Engagement provide the imperative and avenue to connect with others in our global community. By its very nature, intercultural communication can take place effectively in a digital instructional environment.
  • Check out the variety of resources provided by ACTFL in response to Covid-19, including free access to live and recorded webinars prepared by content experts. Topics address tips for teaching and learning remotely, continuing a focus on proficiency and performance, strategies for assessment, and more.

World Language teachers share a unique opportunity to open doors and open eyes as we connect students with the world. In any learning scenario, whether traditional classroom or distance learning or a hybrid of instructional delivery, we must seek to create opportunities for students to engage in cross-cultural encounters and cooperative projects as they apply their developing language proficiency and intercultural communication skills. 

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