State Organizations and the Progress of the Profession


  • Gordon R. Silber

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      GORDON R. SILBER (Ph.D., Princeton) has been at the State University of New York at Buffalo since 1960 as Chairman of the Department of Modern Languages and Literature and, with its recent reorganization into separate but coordinate departments, as Chairman of the Department of French. He taught French and Italian at Union College from 1936 to 1960, serving as Chairman of the Modern Language Department (1947–59) and of the Division of Humanities (1952–55). He has been active in the New York State Federation of Foreign Language Teachers as Secretary-Treasurer (1948–51), Director at various times, and since 1965 as its Delegate to the National Federation of Modern Language Teachers Associations. He is Secretary-Treasurer elect of the NFMLTA for 1969–72. He was AATF Regional Representative from New York State, 1953–56, and is currently Chairman of ACTFL's Committee on Strengthening State FL Organizations. His interest in the structure of the profession dates from 1958 when he prepared a report for the New York State Federation, unpublished but widely circulated in mimeographed form, on “Organizations and Communications in the Foreign Language Field in New York State.” His other professional interests have been in FLES and language teaching by TV and in foreign study and educational exchange. During the current semester he is on sabbatical leave in France and has returned to a long-interrupted scholarly project dealing with French influences on American intellectual and social history at the end of the 18th century. The article published here was an address delivered 29 December 1967 at the First Annual Meeting of ACTFL in Chicago.


ABSTRACT: As a profession, FL teachers characteristically seem to be dissatisfied with the present in spite of recent advances. While some professions are organized so as to preserve the status quo, we are typically ambitious and idealistic, and we must be organized for maximum professional progress. The concept of a state FL organization is one of the cornerstones of our profession, historically and functionally. The AAT's, national associations, and regional associations and conferences have different roles. Future strength, growth, and effectiveness in the state organizations must rest on their working for improvement in FL programs in the schools, working to upgrade standards for teacher preparation and certification, cooperating to establish in-service programs for teachers and supervisors, and working to improve articulation between school and college FL programs. They must assume responsibility for gathering statistics, concern themselves with public relations for the profession, and set up legislative committees ready to act when (as in California, Texas, and New York) school FL curricula come up for legislative action. State FL organizations must establish an effective working relationship with state education departments (possibly through a state FL advisory committee). They must find ways to locate and involve talented individuals. Finally, to create a unified profession, the allegiance of college and university FL teachers must be enlisted on the state level in the interest of common goals.