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.

Projects

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.

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.

Resources

Dialects in Schools and Communities, Second Edition

Dialects in Schools and Communities, Second Edition

This book describes dialect differences in American English, explores the impact in education and daily life for dialect speakers, and outlines issues facing educational practitioners working with these students.

Literacy and Language Diversity in the United States, 2nd Edition

Literacy and Language Diversity in the United States, 2nd Edition

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.

Sociolinguistic Variation: Theories, Methods, and Applications

Sociolinguistic Variation: Theories, Methods, and Applications

This publication features the work of widely recognized scholars in the field of sociolinguistics, brought together to honor the long and productive career of Walt Wolfram, a founder of the field and a strong believer in linking high-quality research to meaningful application.