Celebrating 50 years: 1959 – 2009


On February 16, 2009, the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) will mark the 50th anniversary of its founding. This milestone presents a unique opportunity to focus renewed attention on the significant role of language and culture in our increasingly global society. Building on research, learning, and knowledge from its long history, CAL will take a fresh look at the significant issues of language and culture that both unite and divide our world.


The CAL Story

Learn more about the history of CAL.


A Conversation with CAL's Past Presidents

High-res PDF (8.5 MB)

Low-res PDF (1.0 MB)


Looking ahead
CAL has a vital strategic role to play in strengthening the quality of teaching and learning of languages; creating access and equity for underserved groups in our diverse world; providing continued leadership in translating theory to practice to improve education; and strengthening the programs we develop to meet the fast pace of changing demands in our global society. CAL’s experience is that language and culture are central to meeting these demands. Through our resources and our research, we seek to lay the foundation for the next fifty years of addressing important societal issues that involve language and culture.

Browse CAL's Web site
From its inception, CAL has ensured that its resources are reliable, relevant, and readily available. The growth of the Internet has allowed us to disseminate these resources even more widely. CAL’s Web site has become a trusted source of information internationally, providing a link into what CAL is learning and doing on issues related to language and culture. Visit the CAL Web site.



View milestones of CAL's work over the last 50 years in the context of U.S. and world events and connect to relevant resources and information.

Our Founding

The Center … will serve as a clearing house for universities, government agencies, and other institutions or individuals concerned with the application of linguistic science to practical language problems.
(The Linguistic Reporter, April 1959)

Date:    February 16, 1959

Founding Director:
Charles A. Ferguson

Funding:  Grant from the Ford Foundation to the Modern Language Association
Independent corporation: 1965