The 1970s: Responding to New Needs

While CAL continued its work begun in the 1960s, two historical events—the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Lau v. Nichols and the fall of Saigon, ending the Vietnam Warwere central to CAL’s focus during the 1970s.

Pioneering Bilingual Education and Refugee Services

In 1974, the Supreme Court redefined public education with its ruling in Lau v. Nichols, in which bilingual education was identified as an appropriate means for providing understandable instruction to students of limited English ability. CAL assisted the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) in responding to the Court’s decision. The CAL/SFUSD model was subsequently adapted by school districts across the country.

Anticipating a need for program standards for bilingual education teacher training, CAL developed guidelines focusing on seven areas of competence: language proficiency, linguistics, culture, instructional methods, curriculum utilization and adaptation, assessment, and school/community relations. By emphasizing teachers’ skills and abilities rather than credit hour requirements, CAL’s guidelines facilitated the development of qualified, credentialed bilingual educators. CAL was also involved in establishing the National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education (NCBE) in 1977. NCBE became a major resource center serving the needs of bilingual education programs and professionals across the country. Later NCBE became the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition (NCELA).

During the mid-1970s, CAL published Bilingual Education: Current Perspectives. Four volumes dealt with bilingual education from particular perspectives—social science, linguistics, education, and law–and a fifth volume synthesized the state of bilingual education at the time.

With the fall of Saigon in the spring of 1975, CAL focused on the needs of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotian refugees, and the teachers and social workers working with them.

  • CAL established the National Indochinese Clearinghouse and Technical Assistance Center (NICTAC) two days after Saigon fell. By the opening of school in the fall, CAL had developed and disseminated materials on South Asian languages and culture, and refugee needs to school across the U.S. CAL also developed materials for teaching vocational English to refugee adults.
  • As the refugee flow increased, NICTAC became the Language and Orientation Resource Center (LORC), developing print, audio, and video information for Southeast Asian refugees, as well as other refugee groups such as Cubans, Haitians, and Eastern Europeans.

Other significant projects of the 1970s included

  • Children’s Functional Language and Education in the Early Years, one of the earliest research efforts to focus on classroom interaction and language development among school-aged children.
  • The Middle East Linguistic Institutes, which provided advanced training during the summer for linguists and language teachers in Middle Eastern countries.
  • A survey of 14 countries where the World Bank was considering funding the development of textbooks in vernacular languages.
  • A survey of materials for the study of the uncommonly taught languages.