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One America - Center for Applied Linguistics: Program in Language and Public Policy

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One America

Program: Center for Applied Linguistics: Program in Language and Public Policy, Washington, DC
Contact(s): Dr. Donna Christian, President: (202) 362-0700
Purpose: To conduct research on and educate the public about educational, cultural, and social concerns where language is a decisive factor
Background Program Operations Outcomes


Since 1959, the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) has combined a wide range of basic and applied research with the delivery of services and dissemination of information related to language minority issues. Through its Language and Public Policy Program, CAL addresses contemporary policy and social concerns. Since 1974, CAL has operated the federally-funded Educational Resources Information Center on Languages and Linguistics (ERIC), covering English as a Second Language (ESL) education, bilingual education, foreign language education and linguistics. The Refugee Service Center at CAL has assisted overseas refugee camps and resettlement sites in the United States since 1975. In 1989, the Adjunct ERIC Clearinghouse on ESL Literacy Education was created, entrusted to CAL and devoted to adult ESL literacy issues.

Program Operations

CAL has pioneered language studies on minority language situations in the United States and around the world, where race, ethnic group, socioeconomic status and other factors interact with patterns of language differences. Currently, the Program in Language and Public Policy focuses on the education sector and examines the linguistic challenges created by ethnic and cultural diversity. Its studies on "Black English" and other vernacular English varieties have grounded the investigation of the role of language differences in the development of literacy skills and other critical areas in education and the workplace. In response to the recent controversy about Ebonics, CAL worked with Howard University to establish the Coalition on Language Diversity Education, a network of national and education organizations. It also compiled basic information about language variation and Ebonics for dissemination to diverse participants in the debate. Current studies on the education of English Language Learners focus on a two-way model of bilingual education for Hispanic and white students, where all students in a classroom receive instruction in both Spanish and English. This model also includes implementation of academic standards in culturally and linguistically diverse schools and educational programs for immigrant students in secondary schools.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

For over forty years, CAL has affected many sectors challenged by linguistic and cultural diversity. CAL provides critical, bilingual resources to immigrants on topics such as home ownership and health care. By working with community-based organizations, CAL compiled information on how to improve the quality of teaching in linguistically and culturally diverse schools and published these findings in Teaching Tips. With this research and findings from studies on Ebonics and bilingual education, CAL has educated the public about common misperceptions of race, ethnicity and culture.

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