CAL logo  Improving communication through a better understanding of language and culture  


October 18-20, 2002
Sheraton Premiere Hotel at Tysons Corner, Virginia

Organized by
Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL)
National Foreign Language Center (NFLC)

with support from

University of Maryland, College Park



Competence in languages other than English is desperately needed in the United States. Our huge and varied heritage language resources have a definite role to play in arriving at such competence.

—Joshua Fishman,
Yeshiva and Stanford Universities


PROGRAM: Plenary Address
Photo of Joseph Lo Bianco

Heritage/Community Languages: A Struggle for Space
Lessons from Australia

Joseph Lo Bianco
Director, Language Australia
Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Melbourne

Proficiency in languages other than the dominant language of a society requires considerable community resources. As a result, the preservation and development of heritage languages represents a challenge to the communities in which these languages are used. At the same time, the use of these languages in specific settings (e.g., child rearing and early childhood education) and their value in terms of personal identity and economic opportunity make possible their preservation, at least in certain areas of language use.

This possibility can be viewed as threatening by the host society. For this reason, language policies are often put in place that confine and constrain heritage languages while promoting foreign languages that seem to be in the national interest.

Language and literacy policy development in Australia boasts a long history of strategic alliances among interested stakeholders. In recent decades, more than 15 major public policies, position statements, and significant programs directing public resources toward specific language and literacy goals have been released. In his talk, Joseph Lo Bianco discusses the ambivalent role of heritage languages in this process and tracks how they have fared in relation to nonheritage languages.

Sunday, October 20   9:00-9:45 AM

About Joseph Lo Bianco
Joseph Lo Bianco is the director of Language Australia and professor in the Faculty of Education, University of Melbourne. His research interests are language policy and planning, multilingualism and bilingualism in social context, language and conflict, and literacy policy. He is the author of the 1987 study, Australia’s National Policy on Languages. In 1999, he wrote the National Language Education Policy for Sri Lanka under World Bank financing, and in 2000, he was a commissioned advisor on language education policy in Scotland and Northern Ireland. He was awarded the Order of Australia for his work on language policy in Australia and internationally.