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Hundreds of Language Activists go to Capitol Hill to Advocate for Language Education

CONTACT: Sherri Halloran
(703) 894-2900 x119

ALEXANDRIA, VA— On November 21, nearly 300 language education activists, including ACTFL leaders and representatives of state, regional, and national language education organizations from 46 U.S. states, amassed on Capitol Hill to advocate for critical policies that promote language learning at all levels of instruction.

The event, known as the Assembly of Advocates, was the first of its kind sponsored by ACTFL. Prior to embarking on the more than 250 scheduled Congressional meetings, participants were welcomed by Representative David Price (D-NC), a champion of numerous pieces of world language-related legislation, some of which were being addressed during the day’s meetings. Attendees also received logistical training from Christopher Kush of Soapbox Consulting along with issue briefings from Jim Stowers of The Sheridan Group and Dr. William Rivers of the Joint National Committee for Languages (JNCL) before being sent off to House and Senate meetings with Members and their legislative staffs.

With more than 40 states reporting shortages of world language educators according to the U.S. Department of Education, and language skills in urgent and rising demand among U.S. employers as seen in its recent report: Making Languages Our Business: Addressing Foreign Language Demand Among U.S. Employers, advocates focused their legislative “asks” on three key issues:

“Hosting the ACTFL Annual Convention in Washington, DC for the first time in 18 years presented a unique opportunity for us to hold such an impactful event for this group of dedicated language advocates”, said Howie Berman, Executive Director of ACTFL. “But this event was just one step in what we hope will be a sustained effort to forge strong relationships with Congressional offices so we can better educate our nation’s policymakers about these critical issues.”

After the Congressional meetings, Dr. Rivers invited attendees to participate in JNCL’s Language Advocacy Day, February 6-7, 2020, in Washington, DC, which brings together national representatives of the Language Enterprise concerned about the state of language learning in the U.S.

The Assembly of Advocates was held in conjunction with the 2019 ACTFL Annual Convention and World Languages Expo, which was held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC. The ACTFL Convention draws nearly 8,000 language educators from around the globe annually to take part in the more than 800 educational sessions, meet with over 250 vendors, and network with other members of the language education community. The 2020 Annual Convention and World Languages Expo will take place in San Antonio, TX, November 20-22, 2020. 

ACTFL is the national association for language education professionals from all levels of instruction and representing all languages. With more than 12,300 active members, ACTFL provides innovative professional development opportunities, acclaimed training and certification programs, and widely cited books, publications, scholarly journals, research studies and language education resources, including Foreign Language Annals and The Language Educator magazine. As part of its mission and vision, the organization provides guidance to the profession and to the general public regarding issues, policies, and best practices related to the teaching and learning of languages and cultures. ACTFL is a leading national voice among language educators and administrators and is guided by a responsibility to set standards and expectations that will result in high quality language programs.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019