Language & Culture in Society

Although there are psycholinguistic characteristics that all humans share, language learning and teaching is always embedded in cultural and social structures. Languages die out, their uses in a speech community shift over time, and new languages emerge. An individual may lose or gain fluency in a language, or several languages, over their lifetime.

These events are rarely because of conscious individual choice. Implicit or explicit language policies shape individual language use. The prestige or stigma attached to a particular language in a society will usually reflect power hierarchies in that society. Globalization creates demand for fluency in some of the dominant world languages, while at the same time it opens up opportunities for speakers of small languages to communicate easily over distances and use technologies to maintain or revitalize their languages

To learn more about CAL's work and resources about this topic, browse the subtopics within this section.


Ghana - Improved Quality and Access to Basic Education

CAL partnered with the Education Development Center (EDC) on a USAID-funded project to improve access to primary education, especially literacy learning, for children in Ghana. The project, Education Quality for All (EQUALL), operated in 20 districts.

Do You Speak American? Teacher Development Materials

Made for the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and for DVD release, Do You Speak American?  takes viewers on a journey through the United States, exploring how the language we use can define us, unite us, or separate us.


News & Events

CAL Board Member Tackles Climate Change Discourse in New Book

CAL Board Member Tackles Climate Change Discourse in New Book

October 4, 2020

There is an ideological war of words waging in America. The Power of Narrative: Climate Skepticism and the Deconstruction of Science, released October 1, 2020 by coauthors are Raul P. Lejano and CAL Board of Trustee, Shondel J. Nero, pulls from science and technology studies, narrative and discourse theory, and public policy to examine the strength of climate skepticism as a story, offering a thoughtful analysis and comparison of anti-climate science narratives over time and across geographic boundaries.

CAL Celebrates its 60th Anniversary

January 9, 2019
CAL 60

In 2019, CAL celebrates its 60th anniversary. This milestone presents a unique opportunity to focus on renewed attention on the significant role of language and culture in today's global society. CAL's 60th anniversary theme of Valuing All Voices represents our long history of supporting language and culture diversity and serves as a guide for activities during our anniversary year and beyond. 

In Memoriam: Olga Kagan

April 13, 2018

CAL is saddened by the passing of our valued colleague and friend, Dr. Olga Kagan, one of the country's leading specialists on second language acquisition and heritage language teaching.