Conference Report: 2014 Language Advocacy Day

JNCL-NCLIS Legislative Day & Delegate Assembly, Bigger and Better in 2014


“This is was the best meeting JNCL-NCLIS has had for at least, I don’t know, the last 15 years,” was one among many compliments poured out by delegates, new and old, at the close of the 2014 JNCL-NCLIS Legislative Day & Delegate Assembly.  We will let our delegates speak to the quality of the meeting, but we can confirm that this year’s meeting was certainly the best-attended in many years.  The JNCL-NCLIS staff, and members of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors were delighted to count themselves among 83 attendees from 26 states, representing 52 of our 91 member organizations.

The two day meeting was filled with opportunities for delegates to connect across sectors, to learn about trends in the language field, and to advocate for the interests of language professionals to the U.S. Congress and Executive Branch agencies.  Panel presentations and Q&A sessions on Thursday, May 8, included discussions of trends in the language industry, as well as its needs from the public sector in education and training of a language-ready workforce; and lessons and insights on state-level grassroots advocacy, state biliteracy seals, and the barriers to realizing the goal offering second-language exposure to every resident of the U.S.

Thursday afternoon delegates broke off into groups by state to venture down to Capitol Hill where they met with staffers in the offices of their congressmen and senators to emphasize the urgency of the nation’s language needs and to encourage action in support of language programming and funding.  In total, JNCL-NCLIS was represented in 105 meetings with congressional offices, as well as four meetings with staff in offices at the White House and the Department of Education.  Reports from the delegates on Friday revealed very positive results from those meetings and confirmed that our message has made inroads in the Congress.

On Friday morning, May 8, 2014, delegates returned for an optional session and rotated among working groups brainstorming definitions of global talent, and discussing cooperation between industry and the educational sector, and national policy priorities.

JNCL-NCLIS owes special thanks to its Executive Committee and Board of Directors, and to the generous support of Leadership Sponsors, Brigham Young University Humanities and Certified Languages International, as well as other sponsors MaFLA, CAL, American Councils, ACTFL, SCOLA, ATA, AATG, NCLG and NNELL.

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    Executive Director’s Report
    Executive Director’s Report

    Dear Colleagues,

    As a leader of one of the 92 member organizations of the Joint National Committee for Languages and the National Council for Languages and International Studies – JNCL-NCLIS – you share the belief that language and global skills are integral to 21st Century citizenship, with consequences for global security, economic opportunity, and social justice. JNCL-NCLIS represents the Language Enterprise in Washington, DC, and to the general public. Through our advocacy for the language enterprise in the US, we work to

    • Facilitate the free movement of people, information, and ideas
    • Build up mutual understanding and acceptance of cultural and linguistic diversity
    • Promote the personal development of the individual

    Our members do this through teaching, research, translation, interpreting, test development, materials development, localization, and many other types of language work. JNCL-NCLIS advances our cause through innovative public advocacy, working to raise the awareness of the vital role of language in the 21st Century.

    The past year has seen tremendous growth at JNCL-NCLIS, as we have increased our membership from 71 to 92 member organizations, and counting. We have revised our by-laws – a significant undertaking – in order to streamline our governance and operations. The dues structure has been updated to reflect the current state of affairs for our non-profit members, and to begin including for-profit members in our work. The staff, Executive Committee, and Board of Directors have worked diligently to improve our fiscal situation, decrease overhead, and improve member services. These are all detailed in this Annual Report.

    While the legislative climate in Congress has been exceedingly challenging, we have been able to make some progress in restoring small amounts of funding to Title VI/Fulbright-Hays in the Department of Education, and have continued to educate the Congress and its staff, with three staff briefings in the past eight months. Our message is consistent – language and international education matter, in critical ways, and there is significant, albeit distributed, grass-roots support for innovative initiatives to provide global education to America’s students and to increase the economic impact of the language industry.

    JNCL-NCLIS continues its leadership role in three major initiatives. The Language Enterprise Initiative began in 2013 as the Languages for All program, sponsored by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, the American Councils for International Education, the Center for Applied Linguistics, the Center for Advanced Study of Languages (all JNCL-NCLIS members), JNCL-NCLIS, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Language Partnership, and the Globalization and Localization Association. Many of you were present at the September 30th summit at the University of Maryland, where the Initiative was joined in sponsorship by the British Academy and the Australian Academies of the Humanities and Social Sciences. The Language Enterprise Initiative seeks to redefine global education it the next ten years, with access for all American students, and genuine expertise for a significant number of our college graduates.

    JNCL-NCLIS continues to serve as the Secretariat for ASTM Technical Committee F43 on Language Services and Products, the national standards committee for the language industry. With more than 130 members, ASTM F43 has had an active year, publishing three new standards and beginning work on several more, including interpreter testing and translation quality. In addition, F43 is the home of two United States Technical Advisory Groups to the International Standards Organization, on Education outside the Formal Sector (TC232) and Terminology and other Language Resources (TC37). These two international committees play a significant role in setting global standards for language technologies and language training. Many JNCL-NCLIS member organizations participate in ASTM F43 and its seven subcommittees, or in the ISO committees, and several organizations hold leadership roles in them.

    More recently, I had the honor of being appointed to the Board of the Globalization and Localization Association’s Collaborative Research, Innovation, and Standards Program (GALA-CRISP). A number of our corporate members are also represented on GALA-CRISP, which is a platform for research and standards development in the language industry. GALA-CRISP works with ASTM F43 to advance standards, and has just launched the Global Talent Survey, which will reach hundreds of corporate leaders worldwide, to ascertain the demand for language and global talent in the 21st Century.

    JNCL-NCLIS also works with members to provide enhanced services to the full membership. Among these is the provision of the CapWiz advocacy engine by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, which is how we send policy messages to our Congress. This is a significant contribution by ACTFL, and it enabled more than 6,000 individual messages on language and international education to be sent to Congress members and Senators in the past year. SCOLA, another member, has made available its services free to any member of any JNCL-NCLIS organizations, for a trial period of six months. I urge you to let your members know of these services.

    In closing, let me thank all of you for your work in the Language Enterprise, and your support for the work of JNCL-NCLIS. What we do is truly collaborative, and truly grass-roots. I’ve had the opportunity to attend many of your meetings over the past year, to visit exemplary, innovative programs in K-20, to talk to industry leaders about the future of the language space, and I’m convinced that we are on the cutting edge of the 21st Century, and that our story will continue to gain meaningful attention from policy makers at the national, state, and local levels.

    With Best Wishes,

    Bill Rivers

    Executive Director

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    Advocacy Materials