During its annual Convention & World Languages Expo to be held in Boston, November 18-20, 2022, ACTFL will celebrate with members, language advocates, and the world the launch of the Language Connects Foundation (LCF), a national not-for-profit and philanthropic organization created to uplift language educators and champion language education.
For 50+ years, ACTFL has been the largest individual membership organization serving the needs of language educators, making powerful strides in the improvement and expansion of the teaching and learning of all languages at all levels of instruction. As a standalone entity, the Language Connects Foundation seeks to raise the funds necessary to advance and deepen the breadth and scope of its parent organization ACTFL’s impactful work, as well as build out innovative new programming with a goal to help ensure a diverse, well-prepared, and highly skilled language educator workforce today and for generations to come.
The language education profession is at a critical crossroads. Employers’ demand for multilingual talent across sectors is greater than ever—with 90 percent of U.S. businesses stating reliance on employees who speak languages in addition to English—but recruiting qualified candidates with the necessary language skills is becoming increasingly challenging. Both K-12 and higher education language enrollments lag far behind our global peers, partly due to stubborn obstacles and a general lack of public education on the benefits of language learning that make access to these opportunities highly inequitable.
At a time when our nation should laud the valuable contributions that language educators make for our learners, communities, economy, and national security, more and more teachers—facing significant financial and systematic challenges—are feeling unsupported and, at times, isolated. With a language educator shortage in at least 44 states, as well as the District of Columbia, we must prioritize solutions to address these critical challenges.
“While the pandemic exacerbated many of the systemic inequities and challenges facing the language education profession and our teaching professionals, they have existed for far longer,” explains ACTFL Executive Director, Howie Berman. “The establishment of the Language Connects Foundation represents ACTFL’s latest and most intentional commitment to address these challenges head-on, and to the long-term viability and success of the language education community.”
With a mission to elevate the language education profession and promote the transformative power of language learning, LCF’s work centers on four primary focus areas:
- Professional Development: Supporting educators’ growth by expanding access to mentoring and continuing education.
- Scholarships & Awards: Recognizing the incredible accomplishments of educators and students, especially from traditionally underserved communities.
- Research & Grants: Supporting and sharing with the world the results of cutting-edge language education research initiatives.
- Public Education: Ensuring that those outside the profession understand the importance of language education.
This new endeavor will be led by Foundation Director Kit Hall, who comes to LCF most recently from the American Psychiatric Association Foundation, and Deputy Director Erin Whelchel, who formerly led ACTFL's Lead with Languages national public awareness campaign.
Please visit LanguageConnectsFoundation.org to learn more, explore ways to get involved, and sign up to receive email updates. You may also engage with LCF across social media @langconnectsfdn on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.