Over the past several months, I’ve heard a lot about language programs closing or being cut. This is troubling not only because I’m a strong believer in second and additional language education, but also because it means that highly trained and committed professionals are losing their jobs.
So what does it take to save a language program that’s at risk of closure?
If your program is scheduled to be cut at the end of the semester or even within the next two years, the best thing you can do is buy yourself some time. You will need it to build your campaign and garner support.
A campaign to save your language program
This is a bit tricky. You don’t want to be so zealous that you turn people against you. Your campaign needs to be well-crafted and thought out thoroughly. You’ll need the help of other people. Develop the plan together and monitor it as you go. Include things like letters of support from parents, alumni, local politicians or other champions.
No matter how much you may love your program, you won’t be able to save it alone. You may find support in unexpected places and no support from people whom you think should back you. Surround yourself with like-minded people. Leave behind the whiners or those who are too burnt out to care. Build those relationships. Ask their opinions and advice. Include them in your activities.
Above all else, you will need unrelenting energy and a “can-do” attitude. You’ll need to stay positive (but not nauseatingly so) as you lead the charge.
A focus on the future
This isn’t just about closing your program today. This is also about the effect it will have on an entire generation of students and possibly even the generation after that. You’re working for them. You’re doing this so that they continue to gain all the benefits of studying a second language that you know will make them more intellectually and culturally robust.
There is a ripple effect that happens when second language programs are cut from schools and universities. It’s worth the fight.
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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.