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.

Projects

STARTALK

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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.

Resources

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.