Language Education Policy Studies
An International Network
New members welcome!

Language Education Policy or Management? 

Language in education policies (LEPs) directly impact people’s daily lives, and language curriculums and agendas are generally impoverished and do not support multilingualism or mother tongue instruction and multilingual education, often privileging English. LEPs are often created at the national level, and may begin with a country’s official language. Many LEPs are de facto rather than official, official policies are often contested in practice. Less commonly used or low status languages are often ignored or not taken seriously, in particular Indigenous languages, but they are important in peoples' daily life. It is important to define the nature of language and in particular language rights in education to understand the ideologies that underlie the policies.


The planning or absence of policy is the ideology in practice. Then the question of what and who shapes ideology emerges. The study of policy is not straightforward causally—rather, policy processes must be considered. The policy makers are political actors, educators, youth, and language speakers; along with the problem of resources or lack of resources. (See Actors, Teachers/Youth as Policy makers.) The question of power is often tied to ethnic conflict as well. (See Inequalities). Here too there may be variations in what counts as language rights—ethnic, economic (translated through schooling or education), or political power.


The consideration of LEP is seemingly a structural and macro view but must be countered by the community’s needs and speakers’ communicative practices. (See Revitalization Questions, Multilingualism.) Again a seeming binary exists between intelligibility and identity, and we must interrogate the role of a global lingua franca (See English as a Lingua Franca). This website’s authors believe that respectful language in education policies are possible in the form of multilingual and deep education. (See Goals, Defining Language, Policy Processes, Multilingual Education, Deep Education.)


A few references:


Bastardas-Boada (1995). Language Management and Language Behavior Change: Policies and Social Persistence. International Journal of Catalan Culture, 4(2), 14-38.


Donahue, T. (2002). Language Planning and the Perils of Ideological Solipsism. In J. Tollefson (Ed.), Language Policies in Education. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.


Hornberger, N. (1998). Language policy, language education, language rights: Indigenous, immigrant, and international perspectives. Language in Society (27), 439-458.


Joseph, J. (2006). The denial of heteroglossia. Excerpt from chapter, The social politics of language choice and linguistic correctness, 44-46. In Language and Politics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.


Ricento, T. (2006). Language policy: theory and practice – an introduction. In T. Ricento (Ed.), An introduction to language policy: Theory and method, (pp. 10-23).


Skutnabb-Kangas, T. (2008) Human Rights and Language Policy, Encyclopedia of Language & Education.


Schmidt, R. (2000). Language policy and equality: the search for justice. In R. Schmidt, Language policy and identity politics in the United States (pp. 130-162).


Schmidt, R. (2000). Flaws at every turn: a critique of assimilationist, pluralist, and confederationist alternatives. In R. Schmidt, Language policy and identity politics in the United States, (pp. 183-220).


Shohamy, E. (2006). Manipulating language. In E. Shohamy, Language policy: hidden agendas and new approaches (pp. 22-44). New York: Routledge.


Shohamy, E. (2006). Expanding language policy. In E. Shohamy, Language policy: hidden agendas and new approaches (pp. 45-56).


Phillipson, R. (2003). Chapter 5- Towards equitable communication and Chapter 6 – Recommendations for action on language policies. In English-Only Europe? Challenging Language Policy (pp.139-179).


Spolsky, Bernard. (2007). Towards a theory of language policy. Working Papers in Educational Linguistics, 22(1), 1-14


Spolsky, Bernard. (2009). Language Management, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 


Spolsky, Bernard. (2002). Globalization, language policy, and a philosophy of English language education for the 21st century. English Teaching, 47(4).


Spolsky, Bernard. (2004). Language policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


This web page has a copyright. It may be referred to and quoted, or reproduced and distributed for educational purposes according to fair use legislation only if the following citation is included in the document:

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

Harrison, K.M. (2013). Language Education Policy or Management?. In F. V. Tochon (Ed.), Language Education Policy Studies (online). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin—Madison. Retrieved from: (access date). 

Widget is loading comments...