Important Note: Advocacy is most effective for growth and prevention, not treatment! Don't wait for the axe to start falling... grow and promote your programs now! It will serve you well in the future.
Education for Global Leadership is a 2006 publication from the US government's Committee on Economic Development. It is a sixty-nine page pdf file full of arguments on why US universities must teach students to understand foreign languages and foreign cultures if the US economy is to competitive in global markets.
I. Advocacy Groups and Sites
The Sound Bites Project brings you bite-sized arguments for funding and maintaining Russian programs.
700 Reasons to Learn a Language from Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies, University of Southampton.
US Global Competence is a government-supported initiative to help ensure that the US stays competitive in the global spheres of economics and diplomacy.
NYSAFLT has compiled several documents that will help you support the foreign language advocacy conversation with your regional and state elected officials.
Noble, the Network of Business Langauge Educators, provides considerable advocacy resources on its site.
The Joint National Committee for Languages (JNCL) and the National Council for Languages and International Studies (NCLIS) are joint organizations with mission to advance the idea that Americans must have the opportunity to learn and use English and at least one other language. They believe that language and international education are clearly in the public and national interest. Knowledge of other languages increases intellectual abilities and provides a window of understanding to other customs and cultures. Although once considered basic educational priorities, language education and international studies lack adequate support and recognition as essential components of today's school curriculum. Only with language competence can Americans hope to conduct effective trade policy, expand international trade, ensure the integrity of national defense, enhance international communication, and develop a truly broad-based education for all citizens.
LanguagePolicy.org is the website run by JNCL-NCLIS (above) specifically to advocate and encourage language programs.
Russnet.org is a joint project by AATSEEL and ACTR to argue for the practicality of learning Russian.
ProfessorAndy.com provides advocacy and lots of teaching resources.
YearofLanguages.org is an advocacy group dedicated to an "ambitious effort to promote the value of language learning." They are focused on media campaigns, and influencing national policy on language learning.
II. Articles and Reports Providing Advocacy
1. From the Media
Russian in the Real World is an extensive article by Paul Richardson of Russian Life Magazine. In it, he describes how several professional people have learned and continue to use Russian. (article in .pdf)
Does Russia Matter? is an editorial also by Paul Richardson of Russian Life Magazine, in which he argues for Russia's significance in the world.
SRAS Interviews and Personalities provides interviews and stories from professionals who use Russian in their jobs and from students who hope to use Russian professionally.
2. From Universities
Georgia Tech provides its own page of reason to studies Russian - covering business, politics, culture, and regional concerns for Georgia.
Connecticut College presents a three-minute video made by one of their students, Kathy Avgerinos, who studied in Moscow as part of her Senior Integrated Project for the college.
3. From Government Sources
President George W. Bush spoke to a group of University Presidents and championed the National Security Language Initiative, one that he has been largely credited with. Unfortunately, he focuses on humor in the speech, and never mentions economic benefits to language study, but there are arguments that language study is "critical to national security."
Margaret Spellings, Secretary of Education, spoke at the same conference. Her comments are more useful, concentrating not only on security, but global competitiveness in business and education.
THE STATE OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE CAPABILITIES IN NATIONAL SECURITY AND THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT was presentation before the Congressional committee in 2000 about the "crisis in language learning." The fact that President bush has recently pushed the National Security Language Initiative indicates that the supply of speakers of foreign languages (including those of the FSU) is still problematic for the Federal Government.
The Departments of Education and State also argue for learning languages like Russian.
William J. Burns, Ambassador to Russia, underscored the importance of studying and understanding Russia, which will play a major role in the world political arena and economy for many years to come.
The government's official World Fact Book on Russia shows the country to be strong economically and troubled politically, indicating that the US will be active in Russia for years to come.
State Department information on assistance to Russia shows we already are.
The Senate Names 2006 the "Year of Study Abroad" "An education that includes study abroad not only opens doors to careers, it opens minds and worlds of possibility."
Framework for the 2004 Foreign Language National Assessment is a document produced by the federally funded National Assessment Governing Board and provides a handful of good arguments for foreign language learning. However, most of its focus is on Spanish and the results of this scheduled assessment have not been found.
State Department briefing on actions in and plans for Central Asia (where Russian is a major language of business and diplomacy).
Bureaucrats love numbers. We've provided them here for language assessment as well as those for statistics on how other departments are doing. Be sure to report your statistics!
1. Monterey Language Stats
The Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, divides the languages they teach into four groups, from easiest to most difficult, as measured by the number of hours of instruction required to bring students to a certain level of proficiency. Below are sample lists of the languages included in each group.
Group I: Languages included: Afrikaans, Danish, Dutch, French, Haitian Creole, Italian, Norwegian, Protuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish
Group II: Bulgarian, Dari, Farsi, German, Greek, Hindi-Urdu, Indonesian, Malay
Group III: Amharic, Bengali, Burmese, Czech, Finnish, Hebrew, Hungarian, Cambodian, Lao, Nepali, Philipino, Polish, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Sinhala, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese
Group IV: Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean
Information on the Groups
|Hours needed to reach Level-2 Proficiency
|Speaking proficiency level expected of a student with superior language aptitude, after 720 hours of instruction
ACTFL Learning Guidelines, another proficiency measure, can be found on their site.
2. Statistics Services for Russian Programs
The Committee on College and Pre-College Russian (CCPCR) offers a large database of well-maintained statistics, complete with contact information for reporting schools.
CARLA (Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition) offers a list of high schools and grade schools offering Russian and other Less-Commonly-Taught Languages.
Modern Language Association also compiles periodic enrolment statistics for language programs.
AATSEEL (American Association of Teachers of Slavic and Eastern European Languages) has recently compiled a listing of programs available from America's top 50 liberal arts colleges and top 50 research universities. (Note: these are not the best Russian programs, but programs available from top universities.)
The National Directory of Early Foreign Language Programs was developed in response to the need expressed by teachers, school administrators, researchers, and parents for information about schools that teach foreign languages to young children.
The Association of Departments of Foreign Language (ADFL) did a survey of enrollment for undergraduate foreign language programs in 2002. Check their resources page for other interesting statistics.
Ethnologue is an encyclopedic reference work cataloging all of the world’s 6,912 known living languages. Unfortunately, its information is often dated and incomplete, but there's an awful lot to work with here. See their entry for Russian.