Language Planning & Policy
Decisions around language policy and planning are made around the globe every day, both formally by governments and informally by scholars and community leaders. These decisions influence the right to use and maintain languages, affect language status, and determine which languages are nurtured. Language policy and planning decisions have a major impact on language vitality and, ultimately, on the rights of the individual.
Decisions about language policies, requirements, and practices have important consequences in all social contexts. “Language planning refers to deliberate efforts to influence the behavior of others with respect to the acquisition, structure, or functional allocation of their language codes” (Cooper, 1989, p. 45). It may be undertaken with formal, official governmental sanction or reflected in unofficial and informal practices. Language planning is frequently undertaken for the expressed purpose of solving communication problems. Nevertheless, ill conceived, poorly informed policies can result in negative impacts on those affected by them.
Traditionally, there are two dimensions of language planning: “Corpus planning deals with norm selection and codification, as in the writing of grammars and the standardization of spelling; status planning deals with initial choice of language, including attitudes toward alternative languages and the political implications of various choices” (Bright, 1992, p. 311). A third major type planning that is particularly important for education is known as language acquisition planning (Cooper, 1989). Choosing which languages will be used as mediums for instruction is particularly important in acquisition planning as one must not only learn the language but use it to learn.
For further reading:
- Bright, W. (1992). Language Policy. International Encyclopedia of Linguistics Vol. IV:310-311.
- Cooper, R. L. (1989). Language planning and social change. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
CAL believes that language diversity should be seen as an asset, not a problem. We conduct original research in the field, and facilitate collaboration nationally and internationally among scholars and other stakeholders. CAL is committed to making significant contributions to the dialogue and debate about language planning and policy with the goal of expanding language choices and widening the context within which language policy decisions are made. In particular, CAL is focusing on language in education planning as a means of promoting language acquisition and achieving greater equity of access to resources.
To learn more about CAL's work and resources about this topic, browse the subtopics within this section.
The Center for Applied Linguistics manages the Language Policy Research Network (LPReN), an international organization of researchers, scholars, and stakeholders in the field of language policy.
Review of Research in Education (Volume 38) explores the important role of educational language policies in promoting education as a human right. With language diversity in flux due to large-scale trends with widespread implications, this timely volume offers a solid background to inform and influence policies and programs for millions of students worldwide.
Scholars and researchers present their latest findings regarding the impact of a restrictive language policy on teacher preparation and classroom practice through the lens of the decade-long implementation of Structured English Immersion (SEI) in Arizona.
In this revised and updated edition, the author takes a fresh look at the differences between native and nonnative speakers of English in the United States in terms of their literacy performance and educational achievement. He also discusses the social and educational policy debates that surround literacy in the 21st century.
News & Events
Promoting the Educational Success of English Learners: Policy Implications and Reactions from the Field
The report, The State of Language in the United States, provides results from a survey designed to collect and analyze K-12 foreign language enrollment data by state and the number of programs by state with information about the range of languages taught in schools.
Language Policy in the Multilingual Classroom: Navigating Language Development and Implementation in International Baccalaureate Schools (poster)
Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures – Report Released
This report examines the evidence on the developmental progress and school success of English learners from birth through grade 12 who live in homes in which a language other than English is spoken.