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CAL Activities

July 2005

In July, the Year of Languages focuses on linguistic and cultural practices at the community level. CAL provides information about the relationship between language and culture for a variety of communities. Communities use this information to develop and strengthen programs of education, build cross-cultural awareness, and more. Below are descriptions of two CAL projects that provide such information about and for communities.

Do You Speak American?

Do You Speak American? offers a rare opportunity for viewers to hear and discuss how language shapes us as individuals, as communities, and as a nation.
— Center for Applied Linguistics, 2005

In early 2005, PBS aired Do You Speak American?, a 3-hour program that describes the varieties of English spoken across the United States and examines some of the regional and social complexities of language use. Host Robert MacNeil interviews dialect experts and speakers in various regions of the country. The interviews focus on popular questions about language, including how language changes and how people feel about the speech of people in different parts of the country and from different ethnic and age groups.

To encourage deeper exploration of the concepts introduced in Do You Speak American?, CAL developed a viewers guide and curriculum materials for high school and college learners. The viewers guide includes a program summary and discussion questions. The curriculum materials include a glossary of key terms, background information, discussion questions, student activities and assessments, and links to resources for further study on each of five topics:

  • African American English

  • Perspectives on written and spoken English

  • Major regional dialects

  • Spanish and Chicano English

  • Communicative choices and linguistic style

Materials for using the program for teacher professional development will be available on the PBS Web site soon.

For more information about Do You Speak American? materials, contact Carolyn Adger at CAL.

Two-Way Immersion Education

Two-way immersion (TWI) programs are those that enroll an approximately equal number of native English speakers and native speakers of another language, help both groups of students develop high levels of literacy and language proficiency in both languages, and have the same high academic standards as neighboring monolingual programs. TWI programs (also known as dual language or two-way bilingual programs) build on the linguistic diversity of the school community, drawing on the support and resources that the community has to offer. CAL’s work on two-way immersion includes research on the academic achievement of students enrolled in TWI programs, compilation of an online directory of two-way programs, and the development and publication of materials that offer guidance to communities on initiating and maintaining two-way programs.

CAL’s two-way immersion research and professional development activities have enhanced the community of those involved in two-way immersion education by connecting researchers, administrators, teachers, and parents. CAL disseminates information on TWI via a Web page and the online directory. CAL staff also provide consultation by phone and email. Practitioners, journalists, and parents use these services to find resources and to connect with other programs.

CAL has also brought together diverse groups of professionals to draft Guiding Principles for Dual Language Education, a tool to help TWI staff with program planning, implementation, and maintenance. The Guiding Principles are now available online for public comment. For more information about CAL’s work on two-way immersion education, contact Julie Sugarman at CAL.


MacNeil/Lehrer Productions. (Producer). (2005). Do you speak American? [Television broadcast]. New York and Washington, DC: Public Broadcasting Service.

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Additional resources on languages and communities

The Dual Language Program Planner: A Guide for Designing and Implementing Dual Language Programs

The Development of Bilingualism and Biliteracy from Grade 3 to 5: A Summary of Findings from the CAL/CREDE Study of Two-Way Immersion Education

2-Way CABE

Sherman Wilcox, University of New Mexico, ASL/FL

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