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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.

Adding/Changing SIGs:

When joining ACTFL or renewing your membership, you will have the option to select your Special Interest Group (SIG). The first SIG is included at no additional fees with all levels of membership. For Basic levels, each additional SIG thereafter is a $5 fee per year. For Plus, Preferred, and Premium levels, the second SIG is included at no additional fee, each additional SIG thereafter is a $5 fee per year. SIGs are priced for one year; individuals purchasing multi-year membership will need to multiple the price of the SIG by the number of years to join the SIG for the length of membership. Members may join as many SIGs as they wish.

Once an application or renewal is received and processed, we are not able to change your SIG selection. You may add additional SIGs for the $5 fee, but we are not able to switch your enrollment. The enrollment in the additional SIGs will coincide with your membership renewal date and will not be extended. You can find your renewal date and memberships status in the ‘My ACTFL’ portal.  Please contact to verify in which SIG you are currently enrolled, and to make payments for additional SIGs.

  1. All SIGs must go through the following steps to be approved by the ACTFL Board:
    1. Any current ACTFL member may submit a SIG proposal
    2. Write an explanation of how the proposed SIG fits within the mission and vision of ACTFL and its strategic plan
      1. Explanation should include the following:
        1. Provide evidence that no other SIG current meets the needs that will be addressed by the proposed SIG, specifically including why the creation of a new SIG, rather than a focus group within an existing SIG is warranted (e.g. is the score broad enough to warrant a separate SIG?)
    3. Show evidence that the petitioners represent an active and functionally unitary interest of a group of ACTFL members
    4. Demonstrate the relevant body of knowledge for the topic, as available within the profession and based upon the scholarly and scientific literature and other resources as appropriate
    5. Define the mission, vision, and specific purpose of the proposed SIG
    6. Once the scope and purpose have been defined and approved by ACTFL staff, the proposed-SIG must collect one hundred and fifty (150) signatures of support from current ACTFL members within a twelve-month period. If they fail to collect the minimum number of signatures in that timeframe, the SIG must be resubmitted with a new mission and scope.

Once the above requirements are satisfied, the proposed-SIG will then have a face-to-face interest meeting at the next annual ACTFL Convention, where the proposed mission and scope will be finalized and approved by a two-thirds majority of those present. If approved, SIG will then be open for members to join following the Convention. An online call for elections would occur in December, with new Officers on-boarding in January.

To ensure sustainability and saliency, the SIG will hold candidate status for a period of 6 months, at the end of the candidate period, the ACTFL Board of Directors will vote on permanent status for the SIG. (That approval may only be delayed or rescinded if the SIG does not meet the minima criteria for SIG status.) A majority vote by the Board of Directors is required for final approval.

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 both online and in-person. The following minimum expectations are established for SIGs, but activities beyond these are encouraged:

  1. Maintain an up-to-date written mission statement consistent with ACTFL’s mission statement.
  2. Facilitate continuous networking and information sharing among SIG members. (See section on Allowable Expenditures below for more information)
  3. Conduct an annual business meeting at the ACTFL Convention
  4. Provide a copy of the annual business meeting minutes to ACTFL and upload to the SIG Community within sixty (60) days of the meeting
  5. Elect Officers according to the stated process (see SIG Election for the election process)
  6. Create and distribute a minimum of 3 newsletters per year
  7. Identify and find a presenter and schedule a minimum of 1 webinar per year
  8. Officers will assist to fill open positions during each election through outreach and nominations
  9. Officers will post regular updates/relevant news on the SIG Community
  10. Provide up-to-date SIG-related content for the ACTFL website and The Language Educator magazine
  11. 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
    • SIGs may not collaborate or enter into a partnership with outside organizations without ACTFL’s approval and knowledge
    • The SIG and ACTFL logo and name may not be used without ACTFL’s approval and permission
    • SIGs may not create social media accounts or external websites on behalf of the SIG. Any such existing accounts must be deleted.
  12. All SIG members must be current active members of ACTFL and members of the SIG for the entire duration of their term. Those who do not maintain an active membership will be asked to step down, and a special election to fill the spot will occur.

IV. SIG Officers and Duties

  1. Chair
    1. Term: One-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. The Chair will roll into Past-Chair after one-year.
  1. Vice-Chair
    1. Term: One-year
    2. Duties: Coordinate communication efforts (via email/Community, etc.), assist the Chair, as appropriate. The Vice-Chair will roll into Chair after one-year.
  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. Officers in the Secretary position may serve a maximum of two consecutive terms.
  1. Past-Chair
    1. Term: One-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 officer nominations will be held annually for the following positions:

  1. Secretary
  2. Vice-Chair

After the period of one year, the Vice-Chair will automatically assume the role of Chair, and then past-Chair (serving a total of three years as an Officer) This will bring the total number of officers up to a minimum of 4 officers per group

The role of Secretary will not automatically roll into Vice-Chair, those wishing to apply as Vice-Chair would need to do it once their term is over. The roll of Secretary will be on a two-year basis as currently.

SIG Election Guidelines

To reach the widest audience of SIG members, a mandate of holding SIG Officer Elections online went into effect on 1/1/2013.

  • Calls for nominations for candidates will be posted on each SIG Community and emailed out to members.
  • Each candidate must submit a bio/vision statement of 250 words or less.
  • ACTFL will set up and send out a voting link to SIG members, and will monitor and provide the current Officers with the submitted nominations.
  • Elections will be open for online voting for a two-week period.
    • If there is a vacant position and no nominations submitted:
      • A post-convention online election can be conducted.
      • Solicit nomination at the business meeting.
      • Provide ACTFL with candidate bio/vision statements: 250 words or less. Submissions must be received any time between post-convention and December 15. This allows for the online election to occur and the newly elected officer(s) to take office on January 1.

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 the Officers and provide staff support to the SIG activities.
  • Maintain all SIG membership and budget records.
  • Provide the Officers with a regular membership roster and budget reports.
  • Establish and maintain continuous communication vehicles for each SIG.
  • Provide space in two (2) issues per year of The Language Educator for SIG information.
  • Post SIG information to the ACTFL website as needed throughout the year.
  • Conduct a yearly SIG officers meeting at the Annual Convention.
  • Conduct 3-4 SIG Chair conference calls throughout the year.
  • Invite SIG officers 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:

Fewer 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. Recipients of an ACTFL First-Timer award or Student Stipend are not eligible to receive a SIG Travel Award. SIGs must verify attendee status with ACTFL prior to notifying applicants.
  3. Food and beverage – not to exceed 75% of a SIG’s total annual budget; food and beverage orders must be placed through Courtney Wu at Outside food and beverages are not allowed to be brought in and the cost will not be reimbursed.
  4. Raffles – for ACTFL membership and ACTFL Bookstore certificates; not to exceed a total of $150 per convention.
  5. Special recognition plaques – for outgoing officers or other individuals who have made a significant impact on the SIG; maximum of 1 large plaque or two small plaques per SIG per year.

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.
  3. Webinar honorariums – SIG officers may offer an honorarium of up to $200 per webinar, total. Current and past ACTFL board members, and current SIG Officers are not eligible to receive honorariums.
  4. SIG specific awards – SIGs may create their own awards with guidance and approval from ACTFL. SIG awards may not conflict with the ACTFL Professional Awards, all criteria and eligibility must be approved by ACTFL prior to announcement. Award winners should contribute a tangible benefit for the group, such as a newsletter article or webinar.

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 1/2020.

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ACTFL has always been a powerful source for learning and networking in our profession. As a member for over 25 years, ACTFL has definitely shaped the way I teach and learn.

Toni Theisen, Loveland High School