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Special Interest Group Guidelines

I. General

The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) encourages members with shared interests to network and share information within the larger structure of ACTFL. To facilitate these activities ACTFL has established Special Interest Groups (SIGs) to provide continuous networking and information sharing on a specific topic or area of interest to a subset of ACTFL’s overall membership. SIGs operate under the aegis of ACTFL and are a vital component of ACTFL’s member service activities.

II. SIG Formation

  1. SIGs may be formed by a group of members or by the ACTFL Board. The ACTFL Board approves the formation of each SIG and periodically reviews the activity of all SIGs to ensure they are fulfilling their mission.
  1. The official name of any SIG is: ACTFL [SIG NAME] Special Interest Group (ACTFL [SIG ABBREVIATION] SIG) (e.g. ACTFL Teacher Development Special Interest Group (ACTFL TD SIG)).
  1. SIG membership is an optional addition to ACTFL membership. To belong to a SIG the individual must be a current ACTFL member and chose SIG membership when renewing/joining. All SIG memberships are valid for the same period of time as the ACTFL membership. SIG membership dues are free for the first SIG and five dollars ($5) per year per additional SIG and are collected as part of the ACTFL membership dues. All SIG fees are set by ACTFL and may only be collected by ACTFL.
  1. All SIGs must go through the following steps to be approved by the ACTFL Board:
    1. Contact the ACTFL Membership Director.
    2. Collect one-hundred (100) signatures of ACTFL members who support forming the SIG.
    3. Write a mission statement for the SIG and background information showing how this SIG will support ACTFL’s mission and goals for presentation to the ACTFL Board.
  1. Upon approval of the SIG, it will proceed into probationary status for one (1) year. Within this year, the SIG needs to:
    1. Reach fifty (50) free and/or paying members.
    2. Conduct an annual business meeting at the ACTFL Convention.
    3. Elect SIG officers.
    4. Provide evidence of year-long activity.
  1. SIGs that fail to maintain fifty (50) members for the year will also enter probationary status for one (1) year.
  1. At the end of the year, the ACTFL Board will review the progress of the SIG and determine if it is ready to proceed to regular SIG status or remain on probationary status.
  1. ACTFL recognizes that some vital areas of interest may not be able to collect one-hundred (100) signatures and maintain fifty (50) members, in these cases exceptions may be presented to the ACTFL Board for review.

III. SIG Responsibilities

In order to be vital components of the ACTFL membership services, SIGs need to facilitate information and knowledge sharing throughout the year among the SIG members. The following minimum expectations are established for SIGs, but activities beyond these are encouraged:

  • Maintain an up-to-date written mission statement consistent with ACTFL’s mission statement for approval by the ACTFL Board.
  • Facilitate continuous networking and information sharing among SIG members (see section on Allowable Expenditures below for more information).
  • Maintain fifty (50) current members of the SIG.
  • Conduct an annual business meeting at the ACTFL Convention.
  • Provide a copy of the annual business meeting minutes to ACTFL along with new officers for the SIG within sixty (60) days of the meeting/election.
  • Elect Officers according to the stated process (see past-chair duties for the election process).
  • Communicate with SIG members a minimum of four (4) times a year via e-Newsletter/Online Community post, etc.; while the preferred method of communication is the ACTFL Online Community, SIG chairs may request the email list of SIG members so long as it is used for SIG business only.
  • Provide up-to-date SIG-related content for the ACTFL website and The Language Educator magazine.
  • SIGs may not undertake or participate in any outside projects without ACTFL’s approval and any participation must be listed as ACTFL [SIG NAME] SIG.
  • All SIG members must be current members of ACTFL and current members of the SIG.

IV. SIG Officers and Duties

  1. Chair
    1. Term: Two-year
    2. Duties: Solicit, organize and select presentations for the annual convention, assist the SIG in articulating and disseminating its issues and concerns to ACTFL, chair the SIG’s annual business meeting and act as the liaison between the SIG and ACTFL staff.
  1. Vice-Chair
    1. Term: Two-year
    2. Duties: Coordinate communication efforts (via email/eGroup, etc.), assist the Chair, as appropriate.
  1. Secretary
    1. Term: Two-year
    2. Duties: Prepare the minutes of the SIG Annual Business meeting, receive the session proposals and manage the proposal review process for the SIG.
  1. Past-Chair
    1. Term: Two-year
    2. Duties: Solicit nominations and prepare a slate of officers (Chair, Vice-Chair and Secretary) from within the SIG membership. Responsible for preparing the required information to conduct the online elections as noted in the Election Guidelines.

SIG officers may not serve more than two consecutive terms. To ensure continuity of leadership, no annual election should be for more than two positions. To facilitate this, ACTFL can approve special terms for officers on a case by case basis.

V. ACTFL Responsibilities

To support SIGs throughout the year ACTFL staff supports the SIG Officers as they perform the duties of their office. This support includes, but is not limited to the following requirements:

  • Designate a staff member to act as the liaison with each SIG Chair and provide staff support to the SIG activities.
  • Maintain all SIG membership and budget records.
  • Provide the SIG Chair with a quarterly membership roster and budget report.
  • Establish and maintain continuous communication vehicles (listserve, bulletin board, etc.) for each SIG.
  • Provide space in two (2) issues per year of The Language Educator for SIG information.
  • Post SIG information to the SIG Web page as needed throughout the year.
  • Conduct a yearly SIG Chairs meeting at the Annual Convention.
  • Conduct 3-4 SIG Chair conference calls throughout the year.
  • Invite SIG chairs to the Assembly of Delegates.
  • Facilitate information sharing between ACTFL and SIG leaders throughout the year.
  • Distribute, as directed, SIG information to SIG members (by printed and electronic means).
  • Provide, as available, space at the ACTFL Annual Convention for SIG activities.

VI. Budgets

Special Interest Groups are allocated an annual budget based on the number of total (paid and free) SIG members on July 1 as follows:

Less than 100 members

101-250 members

251-400 members

401-500 members

More than 500 members

Fiscal Year

ACTFL operates on a July 1-June 30 fiscal year. SIG budget funds not expended during the period for which they were approved will return to ACTFL’s general fund; funds may not be held over for use in a subsequent year..

Allowable Expenditures

Below is a list of acceptable ways to spend SIG funds. To avoid any confusion, no commitments for the expenditure of funds should be made by the SIG until approved in advance by ACTFL. If you have a question about something that is not on this list, contact

Annual Convention

  1. Invited Speaker honoraria/travel – not to exceed $500 per speaker; original receipts are required in the case of travel reimbursement. ACTFL members do not qualify for travel reimbursement/honoraria.
  2. Travel awards – for first-time convention attendees only; limit to three $100 awards per convention
  3. Audiovisual equipment rental – requests will be reviewed by Convention staff; contact Julia Richardson at
  4. Food and beverage – not to exceed 75% of a SIG’s total annual budget; food and beverage orders should be placed through Julia Richardson at
  5. Raffles – for ACTFL membership/SIG fees (nonmembers only) and ACTFL product certificates; not to exceed a total of $150 per convention.
  6. Special recognition plaques – for outgoing chairs or other individuals who have made a significant impact on the SIG; not to exceed $100 per plaque (one plaque per year)


  1. Costs for mailings – including postage and photocopying of flyers, brochures, etc.; will be reimbursed upon presentation of a request for reimbursement to NOTE: The ACTFL Online Community SIG eGroups are a free, efficient method for meeting many communication needs and are available to all SIG members.
  2. Conference calls – SIG chairs should contact to schedule and arrange a conference call. Provide the number of participants on the call, the time and date of the call, and the leader of the call. A confirmation email will be sent to you shortly after this information is received. As a frame of reference, a one-hour call for 25 participants will cost about $75. ACTFL will split the cost of a conference call with the SIG 50/50.
  3. Webinars – SIG chairs should contact ACTFL to schedule and arrange a webinar at least 60 days in advance. The cost of a one-hour webinar for up to 100 participants is $50. Funds may also be used to pay an honorarium to a webinar facilitator (up to $200).

Special Projects/Other

  1. Purchase of reports and/or publications – pertinent and beneficial to the SIG and its members; must be approved by ACTFL staff.
  2. Research stipends – final report on results of study is required; stipend amount can vary and will be determined by SIG chair(s) in consultation with ACTFL.

Expenses that fall outside of one of the above categories should be submitted along with a short explanation of the expense and how it will help the SIG achieve its goals.

Last updated 8/2014.

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