Societal Multilingualism

Multilingualism is not just a characteristic of an individual polyglot. It is also a characteristic of societies. In the majority of the world, multilingualism is the societal norm. Individuals may have varying fluencies in the languages of the region, and use different languages in different spheres of their lives.

The United States is becoming increasingly multilingual, both in terms of proportion of speakers, as well as number of languages spoken. Immigration accounts for some of this societal multilingual ism, but not exclusively so. For instance, in 2010 the U.S. Census bureau recorded 134 native North American languages.

There have been a number of rapid shifts in the distribution of languages in the USA. U.S. Census data show that between 1980 and 2010, Spanish, Russian, Armenian, Persian, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese experienced phenomenal growth in number of speakers. In contrast, Italian, French, Hungarian, and German speakers declined by about 20 percent.




STARTALK was created in 2006 to provide learning opportunities in the critical languages for students (K-16) and professional development for teachers of the critical languages, mainly through programs offered during the summer.

National K-12 Foreign Language Survey

CAL conducted a national survey of foreign language instruction in public and private elementary and secondary schools to provide an updated national and regional portrait of foreign language instruction in the United States.

Alliance for the Advancement of Heritage Languages

The Alliance for the Advancement of Heritage Languages advanced language development for heritage language speakers in the United States and was part of a larger effort to educate members of our society who can function professionally in English and in other languages.

Development of Literacy in Spanish Speakers (DeLSS)

The goal of the Development of Literacy in Spanish Speakers (DeLSS) research project was the development of new knowledge relevant to the critical factors that influence the development of English-language literacy (reading and writing) competencies among children whose first language is Spanish.


News & Events

CAL Celebrates Black History Month

February 20, 2018

CAL is proud to commemorate Black History Month by highlighting selected resources and online information that honor the linguistic legacy that generations of African Americans have contributed to our nation’s cultural milieu.