OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Renowned Language Expert to Address English-Only Issues

10/07/2008

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Noted language-policy expert James Crawford will speak at Oregon State University on Saturday, Oct. 18, as part of the three-day annual meeting of the Linguistic Association of the Southwest.

Crawford will speak on the subject, “English Plus or English Only: Which Way for Language Policy in the United States?”

Crawford is president of the Institute for Language and Education Policy, a nonprofit organization that promotes research-based advocacy for English and heritage-language learners. Over the past 20 years, he has specialized in these issues as an independent writer, lecturer and consultant.

His lecture begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Austin Auditorium of LaSells Stewart Center, 875 S.W. 26th St., Corvallis. The event is free and open to the public.

According to Crawford, his talk will touch on broad issues surrounding bilingualism in the U.S. – “restrictionist” versus “inclusionist” responses – as well as specific issues raised by Oregon’s Measure 58 and impacts of English-only laws in states like California and Arizona.

Measure 58 would create a new Oregon state statute to require “English immersion” in Oregon's public schools. The ballot measure would require, for instance, that non-English speaking students entering kindergarten through the fourth grade could not take English immersion classes for more than a year and a half. After that, they would take exclusively English-only classes.

“While stressing the importance of English, Oregon has also been a leader in fostering language diversity as a way to promote ethnic harmony and economic development,” Crawford said.

Crawford’s latest book is “Advocating for English Learners: Selected Essays” (Multilingual Matters, 2008). Crawford has given keynote speeches and other invited presentations at professional conferences, leading universities, and school districts in more than 30 states and several foreign countries. He maintains an extensive Language Policy Web Site, which is Google’s highest-rated resource on that subject. He is also a blogger and webmaster at a new site for the Institute for Language and Education Policy.

OSU’s Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures is sponsoring Crawford’s talk as well as the 37th annual meeting of the Linguistic Association of the Southwest (LASSO), happening Oct. 17-19. The conference includes presentations on a wide range of topics, from indigenous languages and language policies to making connections to the community.

Susana Rivera-Mills, an associate professor of Spanish at OSU, is co-organizing the conference. She also is president-elect of LASSO.

“For the first time in its history, LASSO will transcend its geographical boundaries by holding this conference in the Pacific Northwest at OSU,” Rivera-Mills said. “As educators committed to public engagement, we see this as a wonderful opportunity to make connections and explore the effects of language on social and political attitudes and behaviors that go beyond the walls of academia. In a world that is becoming smaller and smaller each day, it is important that we move beyond borders and embrace our linguistic and cultural differences by being inclusive and not exclusive.”