Language Education Policy Studies
An International Network
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Teachers as Language 

Education Policy Makers 

Teachers are policy makers in practice. While academics research and debate, policymakers make laws, and speakers’ practices evolve according to sociopolitical and cultural forces, schooling is compulsory and increasingly standardized- leaving teachers to face the problems on the ground. A dialectic with policies occurs as teachers must often mediate policies and practice with pedagogy. Teachers can validate a mother tongue, display their attitude to the language hierarchy if they must teach in English, as well as a foreign language. Most often the problem is tied to English language or other lingua franca or dominant language issues.


Classrooms are communities of practice because students are often multilingual and bring with them a linguistic repertoire. Many speak a language other than the school’s language at home, and may code switch between domains. Skutnabb-Kangas (2009) declares that teaching methods, training, and the entire organization of schools has to be changed. Furthermore, Cummins (2009) states that the ways teachers negotiate identities with students affects educational achievement profoundly. Students are often “schooled in such a way that their own language is devalued (and) tend to reject their mother tongue that is related to prejudice and discrimination” (Tochon, 2009), which may lead to language discrimination, language shift, mother tongue, and language disappearance. Schools are site of intense indoctrination, and young people participate in their own linguistic genocide (Bear Nicholas, 2009).


Teachers can try the Deep Approach or translanguaging techniques, which allow students to build their own projects and use their language as resource. The problem is that they still must comply with requirements, assessments, high stakes testing and other requirements (such as No Child Left Behind in the U.S.); which is where better and more flexible educational and linguistic policy would help. (See Deep Education; High Stakes Exams). 

WEBSITES Teacher Resources foreign language K-12. Teachers and foreign language standards. Language through content. Teacher resources. Teachers for global and national needs.

VIDEOS Language barriers globally and the classroom. Equality and Diversity in the classroom. Teacher translanguages in the classroom. Multimodal social semiotic in the classroom. California law will allow Native language teaching in schools- from Native Voice TV- will allow elders to be certified to teach in reservation schools, and parent advisory councils. Interview with the assemblyman. Policymakers should substitute teach. How to measure teacher effectiveness. Teachers and policy makers meet.


  • Canagarajah, S. (2011). Codemeshing in academic writing: Identifying teachable strategies of translanguaging. Modern Language Journal, 95(3), 401-417.
  • Cenoz, J., & D. Gorter. 2011. Focus on multilingualism: A study of trilingual writing. Modern Language Journal, 95(3), 356-369.
  • Diamond, J. B. (2007). Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Rethinking the Connection Between High-Stakes Testing Policy and Classroom Instruction. Sociology of Education, 80(4), 285-313.
  • Eick, C., & Valli, L. (2011). Teachers as Cultural Mediators: A Comparison of the Accountability Era to the Assimilation Era. Critical Inquiry in Language Studies, 7(1), 54-77.
  • Garcia, O., & C. E. Sylvan. 2011. Pedagogies and practices in multilingual classrooms: Singularities in pluralities. Modern Language Journal, 95(3): 385-400.
  • Hinkel, E. (2005). Handbook of research in second language teaching and learning. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • Horn, I. S. & Little, J. W. (2010). Attending to problems of practice: Routines and resources for professional learning in teachers’ workplace interactions. American Educational Research Journal, 47(1), 181-217.
  • Ingersoll, R. M. (2003). Who Controls Teachers’ Work? Power and Accountability in America’s Schools (pp. 29-65). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Little, J. W. (1993). Teachers’ professional development in a climate of educational reform. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 15(2), 129-151.
  • Osborn, T. A.  (2006). Teaching world languages for social justice. A sourcebook of principles and practices. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • Tochon, F. V. (2009). The Key to Global Understanding: World Languages Education Why Schools Need to Adapt. Review of Educational Research , 79 (2), 650-681.
  • Toolan, M. (Ed.). (2009). Language Teaching. Integrational Linguistic Approaches, New York: Routledge.
Harrison, K. M. (2013). Teachers as Language Education Policymakers. In F. V. Tochon (Ed.), Language Education Policy Studies (online). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin—Madison. Retrieved from: (access date). 
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