The 1980s: Broadening Our Scope

During the decade of the 1980s, literacy emerged at the forefront of the national agenda. Changing immigration patterns that included growing numbers of refugees from diverse backgrounds posed critical challenges to the field of applied linguistics. CAL responded through theoretical and practical innovations in the areas of integrated language and content instruction, English for special purposes, adult literacy, and language testing and assessment, as well as continuing work on training for refugees before their departure for the U.S., regarding English language and U.S. culture.

  • CAL collaborated with the University of California at Los Angeles, Harvard University, Yale University, and the University of California at Santa Barbara on the Center for Language Education and Research (CLEAR). Through CLEAR, CAL made advances in two areas of research that contributed to improving the education of language minority students: integration of language and content learning, and two-way bilingual education.
  • CAL’s Language of Mathematics project helped to clarify the language used in math texts that posed challenges for English learners.
  • CAL developed the Basic English Skills Test (BEST) to measure adult refugees’ and immigrants’ English proficiency for engaging in everyday interactions.
  • Under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State, CAL established the Refugee Service Center to develop programs and materials, and train teachers for programs in refugee camps in Hong Kong, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand. CAL also acted as liaison between service-providing institutions, programs, and centers both in the United States and overseas.
  • The National Clearinghouse for Adult ESL Literacy Education (NCLE) was established at CAL.

Other CAL projects during the 1980s included

  • Assisting Arthur Andersen & Company in developing a worldwide English language policy and training program for its overseas operations.
  • Producing English for Industry, a self-instructional videodisc course for learning English for use in industrial settings.
  • Developing teacher training materials for the Peace Corps that incorporated up-to-date language learning theories and research.
  • Establishing the National Network for Early Language Learning to promote foreign language instruction in elementary schools.
  • Presenting a comprehensive collection of American English dialect recordings to the Folklife Center of the Library of Congress.