Conference Report: 2015 Language Advocacy Day
Making Waves in 2015
2015 Language Advocacy Day & Delegate Assembly
The 2015 Language Advocacy Day and Delegate Assembly was the most impactful in recent memory. The event counted among its attendees 84 member organization delegates and language advocates from 26 states and the District of Columbia, making it the largest in 10 years. Participants had the opportunity to make the case for language in more than 115 meetings in Congressional offices and with Executive Branch agencies.
Newcomers as well as veteran language advocates began the event with an advocacy tutorial on Wednesday, May 7 to prepare for their meetings. JNCL-NCLIS Managing Policy Analyst Rachel Hanson and President Marty Abbott of ACTFL led the workshop with a walk-through of this year’s appropriations and legislative priorities for the language field.
The following morning, Thursday, May 8 offered attendees opportunities to network with professionals from all areas of the Language Enterprise, including for the first time representatives from the private sector. After a welcome from President Marty Abbott, keynote speaker Mohamed Abdel-Kader, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Department of Education’s International and Foreign Language Education (IFLE) office spoke with delegates about how IFLE’s goals and activities address some of the most pressing issues facing the field of language education. Attendees were then given a comprehensive update by Dr. Richard Brecht on the status of the impending commission on language by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS).
In the afternoon, participants broke off into groups by state to network with colleagues and grab a bite to eat before venturing to Capitol Hill for their meetings. The broad representation of the language field at this year’s conference and the consistent participation of JNCL-NCLIS member delegates ensured that meetings with Congressional offices and Executive Branch agencies were effective and compelling. The discussions that took place in these meetings were positive and advocates’ messages to these offices overwhelmingly well-received.
That evening, attendees reconvened at the University Club for a reception at which JNCL-NCLIS President Marty Abbott and Executive Director Bill Rivers awarded the inaugural Dr. James E. Alatis Founder’s Award to Representative David Price of North Carolina for distinguished public service in advancing the national interest through support of language. Though Congressman Price was unable to attend the reception due to a district work schedule, the late Dr. Alatis’ son Bill Alatis shared a moving tribute to his father and to the language profession.
On Friday, May 8, attendees met again at the Beacon Hotel for an engaging discussion on the intersection of the language industry and technology that featured panelists Dr. Lisa Frumkes of Rosetta Stone, Ms. Betty Rose Facer of IALLT/CALICO, Dr. Jacque Bott van Houten of ACTFL, Mr. Andrew Lawless of Rockant, Inc. and Ms. Babs Sekel of Agilent. The panel discussion was followed by working groups facilitated by Dr. Brecht that focused on k-20 education, heritage languages, and language in the workforce.
This year’s conference concluded with the annual Delegate Assembly in which it was reported that JNCL-NCLIS membership continues to grow and that the organization is better-positioned than ever before to make the case for language and build upon the relationships established by delegates in their meetings. You can read more about membership growth and other updates in the Executive Director’s Report below.
On behalf of the Board of Directors, Executive Committee, and Staff, let us express our deep appreciation to the delegates and attendees for their sustained advocacy efforts and to the sponsors that made the event such a grand success: Brigham Young University, College of Humanities, Certified Languages International, Qatar Foundation International, American Councils, National Association of District Supervisors of Foreign Languages, Massachusetts Foreign Language Association, American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, National Network for Early Language Learners, Council of Directors of Language Resource Centers, National Committee for Latin and Greek, SCOLA, American Translators Association, and the American Association of Teachers of French.
We also thank Mohamed Abdel-Kader for his keynote address and homage to the Language Enterprise as well as the JNCL-NCLIS Board of Directors and Executive Committee for their direction. Finally, JNCL-NCLIS owes a great deal of gratitude to Ms. Rachel Hanson for her time and dedication in planning and continuously improving the event over the last few years. We wish her the greatest success in her future endeavors.
1Executive Director’s Report
Executive Director’s Report
In the past year, the more than 100 member organizations of the Joint National Committee for Languages and the National Council for Languages and International Studies have succeeded in making language part of the policy fabric of the Federal government, have started to return funding to neglected Federal language programs, have raised awareness of language as a strategic issue and profit center in the global business community, and have leant our collective shoulders to improving language programming and access at the state and local level. More than 100 office visits to the Executive Branch and Congress have been held since the last Advocacy Days, and JNCL-NCLIS and its members have re-asserted their roles as the trusted voices on language policy and programming in the US with policymakers and the press. We’ve worked to improve industrial standards, to represent the interests of the American language enterprise on the international stage, and have continued to grow and improve JNCL-NCLIS as an organization.
This work is a joint endeavor, made possible by the hard work of thousands of language professionals nationwide – leaders of organizations, company owners, teachers, interpreters, translators, researchers, localizers, language engineers, and many others whose daily work advances American and global security and prosperity, and whose efforts to transmit language and enable cultural understanding enrich the lives of countless students, patients, clients, and citizens in the US and globally.
Moreover, your efforts over the past three years in Washington DC – whether visiting your elected officials during Language Advocacy Days or sending messages to them through the ACTFL CapWiz program – have resulted in a network of Congressional offices, staffers, and members who get it – who understand why language matters, and how the Federal Government might improve our national well-being through supporting language programs and through common-sense regulation of language in industry and education.
Collectively, our work in DC has begun to pay dividends, in a terribly difficult budgetary environment and in an administration which has not focused on language in the ways that the prior administration did. The pending establishment at the behest of the Congress of a commission on language by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences stands as a vitally important achievement. This commission will be the first national commission on language in 36 years, and will deliver a report to the Congress next summer on why language matters to the national interest in 2015, how languages effect the cognitive and educational fulfillment of the individual citizen, and how language impinges on global security, economic growth, and social justice. Building on the Heart of the Matter report on the humanities, this Commission will draw upon all facets of the Language Enterprise in completing its work; JNCL-NCLIS will share more information on the Commission as it becomes available, and part of our Language Advocacy meeting in 2015 will focus on the Commission, its remit, and the specific issues the membership of JNCL-NCLIS Language Enterprise would like to raise to the Commission.
Additional legislative accomplishments at the national level include the resumption of funding for Title VIII. While the “shift to the pacific” is laudable for its thoroughness, Eurasia remains vitally important. We are encouraged by the responsiveness of the State Department to the concerns on the elimination of Title VIII.
In terms of the language industry, JNCL-NCLIS has been working with the Small Business committees in both houses of Congress to raise the existence and dynamism of the language industry as a positive for job growth and economic development.
State Level Advocacy
At the state level, across America, legislative efforts for Seals of Biliteracy have gained considerable momentum, and there is a widening recognition of the benefits of dual-language immersion programs. Multiple state legislatures have undertaken measures to establish Seals of Biliteracy, and JNCL-NCLIS is proud to have added its shoulder to the wheel to support these efforts. Over the last year, we have assisted state and local advocates with letters and testimony in support of Seals of Biliteracy, dual-language immersion funding, and language commissions in Indiana, Nevada, Virginia, Maryland, Hawai’i, and Rhode Island. JNCL-NCLIS members have been active as well in working with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), National Council of State Supervisors for Languages (NCSSFL), Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), and the National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE) to develop guidelines for the implementation of Seals of Biliteracy, once state legislatures pass the legislation.
JNCL-NCLIS has continued to spread the word about language advocacy and has expanded its membership from 93 to 106 members since the 2014 Delegate Assembly. Our growing representation from the non-profit, academic, and private sectors strengthens our collective voice in Washington, and affords our members more connections within the Language Enterprise. There is a total of 18 new members since the 2014 Delegate Assembly.
Please join in welcoming these new members to our collective endeavor. Their voices add to ours, and their expertise and efforts will ensure that JNCL-NCLIS is far greater than the sum of its parts.
The staff of JNCL-NCLIS has undertaken two projects this year to collect data, which will help us make the case for language in the US. First, we have updated our survey of the Congress on its members’ world language skills. In spite of the large transfer of seats in both Houses from one to another party, the overall picture on the world language skills of the Congress are remarkably steady, in comparison to 2012, when more than 40% of Representatives and Senators spoke another language. Of the 69 new Members of Congress, we had a 58% response rate to the survey. 30% of the offices that responded said the Member of Congress spoke or had knowledge of another language. Of those offices, Spanish polled at 50%, followed by French and German, and finally Italian and Mandarin.
Global Talent Survey
Additionally, JNCL-NCLIS has been working with the Global Talent Program of the Globalization and Localization Association to survey global talent requirements worldwide. One major part of this effort was the survey with Michigan State University’s Phil Gardner on the language and culture requirements among American mid- and large-size companies. This survey, completed in the fall of 2014, shows that:
- 33% of US mid and large size companies have international operations and/or serve multilingual/multicultural clientele
- 11% actively seek recruits with FL skills
- 93% seek “employees who can show they are able to work effectively with customers, clients, and businesses from a range of different countries and cultures.”
- 64% seek employees with multicultural experience
- 49% seek employees with overseas experience
- 55% track employee FL skills
- 35% give advantage to multilingual candidates
- 21% report difficulty in managing and integrating diverse teams due to a lack of global talent
- 14% report a loss of business opportunities due to a lack of FL skills
- Top business skills in demand for initial hires with Global Talent: sales, customer service, project management
- 69% of respondents believe that higher education must do more to prepare students with Global Talent
These data will inform curriculum designers, language program administrators, curriculum developers, but more importantly, parents. The desire for a better future for our children is expressed most pointedly in our local school districts, and parents overwhelmingly want their children to be afforded the opportunity to learn another language.
In addition to the membership growth noted above, the operations of JNCL-NCLIS continue to improve, as we have implemented the 2014 strategy for growth and cost control. The 2014 financial statements are included below. JNCL-NCLIS continues to operate with a deficit, reflecting the long-standing structural deficit present before 2013. The 2015 budget adopted by the Board of Directors closes the deficit significantly, with the deficit finally discharged in 2016.
On behalf of the Board of Directors, the Executive Committee, the more than 100 members, and our dedicated staff, I welcome you to Washington and wish you success in your meetings on Capitol Hill and in the Executive Branch. Enjoy the city and our colleagues.
With best wishes,
Title VI/ Fulbright-Hayes Appropriations Rationale (from the Coalition for International Education)