Language Education Policy Studies
An International Network
New members welcome!

What are 

Language Education Policies (LEP)? 

     Historically, the emergence of the modern Nation-State frequently concurred with the choice of an official language. The official language usually plays a sociopolitical role in nation building and national integration. This tendency contributed to the myth that many States are monolingual. Actually such an idealized situation is quite rare. A key challenge for many countries is then to transform education policies and practices in ways that are consistent with multicultural and pluralist values. Three aspects of language education policy characterize LEP as a field of study:

1. the definition and teaching of mother tongues and national or official languages;

2. the teaching of the national or official language as an additional language to sojourners and immigrants;

3. the teaching of other languages, whether regional or community languages or modern foreign languages, i.e., world languages.

     Policies can be overt or covert, implicit or explicit. The underlying ideologies can be assimilationist or pluralist, or federative. The tendency may vary from site to site, from region to region within the same country. Thus LEP studies embrace the dynamic complexity of the open systems within which language expressions are shared and operate.

     LEP studies can be of great benefit to policymakers in helping them to localize foreign experiences and regulate the learning and teaching of world languages from a strategic perspective. In many countries, this type of research remains in its initial stage. The comparison of national language education policies, of education management systems, ways of teaching and standards for language education, can inspire governments to adjust to the growingly diverse populations and the new needs for mobility in the 21st century. Being able to reflect on language-in-education policy and world language education may help promote institutional learning and reforms and provide the theoretical basis and resources for long-term development in the field that contribute to peace and properity. 

See this site describing the U.S. situation of Language Education Policy: 

A few references:


Baldauf Jr, R.B. and Ingram, D.E. (2003). Language-in-education planning. In W. Frawley (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Linguistics (vol. 2) (2nd edn), 412-16. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Cooper, Robert L., Shohamy, Elana, & Walters, Joel (Eds.). (2000). New perspectives in educational language policy: In honour of Bernard Dov Spolsky. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. ?


Kaplan, R.B. (2005) Is language-in-education policy possible. In D. Cunningham and A. Hatoss (Eds). An International Perspective on Language Policies, Practices and Proficiencies. Melbourne: Australian Federation of Modern Language Teachers Association.


Liddicoat, A. (2013). Language-in-education Policies: The Discursive Construction of Intercultural Relations. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.


McGroarty, M. (2002). 2. Evolving influences on educational language policies. In J. W. Tollefson (Ed.), Language policies in education (pp. 17-36). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. 


Spolsky, Bernard. (2008). Investigating language education policy. In K. A. King & N. H. Hornberger (Eds.), Encyclopedia of language and education, (Second ed., Vol. 10: Research methods in language and education, pp. 27-40). New York: Springer Science.


Tollefson, J. (2002). Language Policies in Education. Mahweh, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.


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This information was originally published on the website of the International Network for Language Education Policy Studies ( as

Tochon, F. V. (2013). What are Language Education Policies? In F. V. Tochon (Ed.), Language Education Policy Studies (online). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin—Madison. Retrieved from: (access date).