What is advocacy?
What is advocacy?
Advocacy is spreading awareness about the benefits of learning Japanese and the good points of your school program. The more your community knows about your Japanese program, the more likely it is that the program will be maintained. However, advocacy is not done merely at the local level -- many people advocate for Japanese at the state and national levels.
For an introduction to advocacy, please consider reading “Japanese Language Education in the Global Era: New Perspectives and Advocacy” by Dr. Yasu-Hiko Tohsaku of the University of California, San Diego. It is an excellent article about the importance of advocacy in today's global world, and it has many great ideas.
Advocacy at Your School
On the local level, "advocacy" is spreading awareness about your school's Japanese language program.
If people don't know about the fun events you hold, they won't come. If students don't know that former students have gone to Japan to teach English, they won't get excited and want to do it themselves. If parents don't know that Japan has the third largest economy in the world, they won't think learning Japanese is worth it for their child. If administrators don' t know that your students are enthusiastic and love your class, they won't want to support your program.
So somebody has to tell them.
Advocacy in Your State
On the state level, advocacy is telling your state legislaters that learning world languages is important, and encouraging them to pass laws which support language learning in schools. Invite them to your class and your Japan-related events. Research the number of Japan-affiliated companies which do business in your state. Join together with your local teachers associations to make sure your voice is heard.
Advocacy in the U.S.
On the national level, advocacy is asking the Senate and House of Representatives to pass legislation that supports world language learning in American schools. You can help by joining national organizations like the American Association of Teachers of Japanese (AATJ) and supporting their advocacy efforts by emailing your representatives about your interest in foreign language education. Keep an eye on advocacy organizations like Joint National Committee for Languages - National Council for Languages and International Studies (JNCL-NCLIS) which lobby for languages in Washington DC.
So what exactly can you do to spread awareness? Check out our Real Advocacy Stories page for ideas. Real Japanese language teachers from across the US submitted these successful activities. Get inspired!
Make your program very visible in the community:
- When you have an event, invite as many people as possible (invite the administrators!)
- Make connections with your local news sources - invite them to write articles about your students and events
- Maintain a website (include videos, photos, links etc) and/or an online newsletter
- If you can, start a "parent support group" -- enthusiastic parents are an amazing resource when it comes to fundraising and spreading the word
Don't forget to check out SPEAKJAPAN.org, which is full of fun facts about Japan. Share it with people who ask you, "Why should I learn to speak Japanese?"