Language Planning and Policy

Decisions around language policy and planning are made around the globe every day, both formally by governments and informally by scholars and community leaders. These decisions influence the right to use and maintain languages, affect language status, and determine which languages are nurtured. Language policy and planning decisions have a major impact on language vitality and, ultimately, on the rights of the individual.

Decisions about language policies, requirements, and practices have important consequences in all social contexts. “Language planning refers to deliberate efforts to influence the behavior of others with respect to the acquisition, structure, or functional allocation of their language codes” (Cooper, 1989, p. 45). It may be undertaken with formal, official governmental sanction or reflected in unofficial and informal practices. Language planning is frequently undertaken for the expressed purpose of solving communication problems. Nevertheless, ill conceived, poorly informed policies can result in negative impacts on those affected by them.

Traditionally, there are two dimensions of language planning: “Corpus planning deals with norm selection and codification, as in the writing of grammars and the standardization of spelling; status planning deals with initial choice of language, including attitudes toward alternative languages and the political implications of various choices” (Bright, 1992, p. 311). A third major type planning that is particularly important for education is known as language acquisition planning (Cooper, 1989). Choosing which languages will be used as mediums for instruction is particularly important in acquisition planning as one must not only learn the language but use it to learn.

For further reading:

  • Bright, W. (1992). Language Policy. International Encyclopedia of Linguistics Vol. IV:310-311.
  • Cooper, R. L. (1989). Language planning and social change. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

CAL believes that language diversity should be seen as an asset, not a problem. We conduct original research in the field, and facilitate collaboration nationally and internationally among scholars and other stakeholders. CAL is committed to making significant contributions to the dialogue and debate about language planning and policy with the goal of expanding language choices and widening the context within which language policy decisions are made. In particular, CAL is focusing on language in education planning as a means of promoting language acquisition and achieving greater equity of access to resources.

To learn more about CAL’s work and resources about this topic, browse the subtopics within this section.

Resources, News, and Events

CAL Celebrates its 60th Anniversary
Language Policy, Politics, and Diversity in Education – Review of Research in Education Volume 38
Language Policy, Politics, and Diversity in Education – Review of Research in Education Volume 38

Edited by Kathryn M. Borman, University of South Florida, Terrence G. Wiley, Center for Applied Linguistics, David R. Garcia, Arizona State University, and Arnold B. Danzig, San José State University

Educating America’s Emerging Multilingual Learners: Congressional Briefing
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Related Projects

Language Policy Research Network (LPReN)
Language Policy Research Network (LPReN)

Funder: Center for Applied Linguistics

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The Center for Applied Linguistics is a nonprofit organization promoting access, equity, and mutual understanding for linguistically and culturally diverse people around the world.