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About CAL

The Center for Applied Linguistics is a private, non-profit organization: a group of scholars and educators who use the findings of linguistics and related sciences in identifying and addressing language-related problems. CAL carries out a wide range of activities including research, teacher education, analysis and dissemination of information, design and development of instructional materials, technical assistance, conference planning, program evaluation, and policy analysis.


CAL's Mission:

Improving communication through better understanding of language and culture

To accomplish this mission, CAL

  • promotes and improves the teaching and learning of languages;
  • identifies and solves problems related to language and culture;
  • serves as a resource for information about language and culture; and
  • conducts research on issues related to language and culture.



CAL is headquartered in Washington, DC. CAL is exempt from corporate federal income taxes under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

CAL's affairs are managed by a Board of Trustees, which contains 10 trustee positions. Trustees are elected to serve three-year terms. The full board meets twice a year in CAL's Washington, DC office.The Board of Trustees appoints CAL's administrative officers. Current officers are:

President: Donna Christian

Vice President: Joy Kreeft Peyton

Secretary: Yvette Buck

Treasurer: Anna Paige

CAL Staff

CAL staff have expertise in languages and linguistics, education, measurement and evaluation, psychology, and sociology.

CAL Divisions

Foreign Language Education, Director: Nancy Rhodes

Language and Cultural Resources, Director: Joy Kreeft Peyton

Language and Literacy, Director: Grace Burkart

Language Education and Academic Development, Director: Carolyn Temple Adger

Language in Society, Director: Carolyn Temple Adger

Language Testing, Director: Dorry Kenyon


At the close of the 1950s, issues of language diversity, language policy, and the growing importance of English worldwide created a demand for access to information about world languages and for expertise in linguistics and language training. In addition, the beginning of the space race, with the launch of Sputnik, raised public concern about the ability of American schools to train students in mathematics, the sciences, and foreign languages.

It was in this environment of increased interest in language issues that CAL was founded in 1959 by Charles Ferguson with funding from the Ford Foundation. CAL's mandate, according to Mel Fox, then a program officer with the Ford Foundation, was to be a "resource base for English as a second language (and to become) a national resource for the application of linguistics and of new methods generally to the teaching and learning of second languages."

CAL was the first organization of its kind to focus on the identification and training of qualified personnel and the development of linguistically sound materials for English as a second language (ESL) and foreign language instruction.

In the decades since its founding, CAL has directed major research projects; published extensively; convened educators, researchers, and policymakers to discuss language issues and set new directions; developed curricula, texts, assessments, and standards; built databases of language resources; disseminated information via print and the Internet; provided professional development for thousands of educators; and conducted needs assessments, instructional design projects, and program evaluations.

Whether working with national governments abroad or small groups of teachers in this country, CAL's focus has been on strengthening the ability of all individuals to use language effectively and to realize their educational, vocational, social, and professional goals.

CAL has reacted to emerging language issues rapidly as world events called for rapid responses, and at the same time has pursued sustained agendas for research and development. In the process, CAL has earned an international reputation for its contributions to the following areas:

  • English as a second language (ESL)
  • Immigrant education
  • Foreign language education
  • Language proficiency assessment
  • Bilingual and vernacular language education
  • Refugee education and services
  • Language policy and planning
  • Cross-cultural communication

Over the years, CAL has adopted new approaches and technologies to further its mission and enhance its work. Here, at the beginning of the new century, when issues of language diversity and language policy continue to assume a central role in public life, CAL will continue to incorporate the most promising advances in theory, practice, and technology into its work.