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Language Association

What is advocacy? 

Language advocacy is a comprehensive effort to serve as a state voice for language-related issues and raise public awareness of the benefits of learning languages in order to influence the direction of present and future education.

When it comes to applying this definition to real, grassroots advocacy activities, think of it as the promotion of the academic, intellectual, career, societal and personal benefits of language learning and cultural awareness at all levels. It must deliver compelling messages to the student, parent, school administration and teachers, corporate, government and community decision-makers who will benefit from strong language programs.

Plan of Action: 

1. Contact people who can help (outside of school hours with non-school resources):

  • Contact the Iowa World Language Association's Advocacy Chair.
  • Call a meeting in your home of all world language teachers in your district to create a plan of action tailored to your program.
  • Contact local universities/colleges that send practicum students and student teachers to your program. Request they send letters to the school board and superintendent stating the importance your program holds in the training of pre-service teachers.
  • Contact previous student teachers that have gone on to teach foreign language and request they write letters.
  • Contact parents that are supportive of the program. Request they send letters and emails to the board, superintendent, state legislators, state senators, and editors of the local and state newspapers. See if they would be interested in speaking to the board.
  • Contact previous students who have gone on to use foreign language in their careers. Request they send letters or speak to the board.

2. Have your students advocate for you:

  1. Have students complete statements like "I like [insert language] because..." and "Learning [insert language] is important because..." 
  2. Choose the most well written or spoken responses and send copies to the school board and superintendent.
  3. Take a group of students to a board meeting and have them explain (or read their journal entries) about why studying a foreign language is important.

3.  Keep advocating by:  

  • scheduling a meeting with your principal to state your case.
  • presenting at a school board meeting.
  • sharing articles on the importance of language learning with the school board and superintendent. 
  • inviting people (parents, administrators, the school board, parents, and community members) into your classroom.  

Rules of Advocacy: 

  • You are never allowed to use district resources to advocate for your program. This includes email, newsletters, and the phone.
  • You are not allowed to advocate during school hours so it must be done from your home.
  • Try not to lose your cool at school no matter how frustrated and mad you are at the situation. Stay professional and save the tears and the angry words for when you are at home.

Advocacy Resources: 

If you are looking for additional resources for advocacy, check out the following resources: 

All Levels

  • Marcos, K. M., & Payton, J. K, (2000).  Promoting a language proficient society:  What you can do. Eric Digest.  Eric Clearning house on Languages and Linguistics.  Center for Applied Linguistics. Washington D. C.
  • Nugent, S. A. (2000).  Foreign language instruction in a global community. NASSP Bulletin.
  • Willis, S.  (1996). Foreign languages:  Learning to communicate in the real world.  Association for supervision and curriculum development.


  • Armstrong, P. W., and Rogers, J. D. (1997).  Basic skills revisited: The effects of foreign language instruction on reading, math, and language arts. Learning Languages, 2 (3), 20-31.
  • Garfinkel, A., and Tabor, K. E. (1991).  Elementary school foreign languages and English reading achievement:  A new view of the relationship. Foreign Language Annals, 24 (5), 375-382.
  • Landry, R. G.  (1973). The enhancement of figural creativity through second language learning at the elementary school level.  Foreign Language Annals, 7 (1), 111- 115.
  • Rafferty, E. A.  (1986). Second language study and basic skills in Louisiana.  A paper written for the Louisiana State Department of Education, Baton Rouge, LA.
  • Saunders, C. M.  (1998). The effect of the study of a foreign language in the elementary school on scores on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills and an analysis of student- participant attitude and abilities.  Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Georgia, Athens, GA.

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