Box #2: Language Policy & Literacy

Language Policy & Literacy Web Quest



Language & Literacy

Teacher Name:

Yvette D. Hyter, Ph. D., CCC-SLP


Senegal & the U.S. Contexts


The introduction is a means of providing the students with background information that is intended to be a spring-board for them to begin the process of inquiry.

The primary objective of this activity is to help you develop an understanding of (1) how language and literacy processes fit into larger social, political, and economical contexts, and (2) the implications of this larger context on the schooling and education, and life chances of individuals who speak languages and dialects other than the ones traditionally valued/used in schools, in the media, and in government offices and services.


In most cases, a single question is posed that requires students to
analyze a vast array of information.

  1. Each person will work on a team of three people.
  2. This team will collaborate on (a) responding to questions, (b) using critical thinking and dialectical thinking skills to explore the questions, (c) identifying problems and benefits, as well as consequences of the various contexts (social, political, and economic) for the citizens of Senegal, and other countries such as South Africa, Quebec, Mexico, and various cultures represented in the U. S., and (d) propose solutions to those problems.
  3. Be prepared to substantiate your work/responses with evidence from the extant literature, including web-based sources.
  4. Report your findings in a power point presentation accompanied by a paper that is presented to the class as a whole.


In this section, the teacher leads the student through the task. The teacher offers advice on how to manage time, collect data, and provides strategies for working in group situations.

Step 1: Pretest

The pretest is located at [NEW LINK NEEDED]

Step 2: Identifying Cases for Comparison

  • Each team will identify another cultural and linguistic context for completing this assignment. Choices include: South Africa, Quebec, Mexico, and in the U. S., the case of the Native Americans, Euro Americans, African Americans, and Latinos.

Step 3: Responding to Questions & Engaging in Activities

  • Each team will work to respond to the following questions making bridges between the Senegalese context and the one that each team has identified from Step 2 above.

Questions :

  • How are the following concepts defined in Senegal ? In other contexts? - Human rights, bilingualism, bidialectalism, literacy, marginalization
  • How do the operationalization of these concepts change or remain constant based on the cultural and geographical context?
  • How do these concepts affect human rights and relations of power?
  • How do these concepts affect language policies, schooling, education, and literacy development, maintenance, and transmission?


  • How do current speech-language pathology practices impact these issues?
  • How do these issues impact current speech-language pathology practices?
  • How do we change current speech-language and audiology services to have a more positive impact on these issues? In other words, with new information, how do we move from theory to practice?

Activities :

  • Provide examples from each cultural context (e.g. Senegal and Quebec ) of each of the aforementioned concepts being played out and being violated.

Step 4: Posttest

The posttest is located at


Students are provided with tools (usually web sites), or leads to tools that can help them complete the task. In order for this to be valuable, a teacher must thoroughly review each source.

Description of the language policy and literacy issues in the context of Senegal can be found at:

Human Rights

  • UN Declaration of Human Rights available from
  • Skutnabb-Kangas, T., & Phillipson, R. (1995). Linguistic human rights, past and present. In T. Skutnabb-Kangas & R. Phillipson (Eds.), Linguistic human rights: Overcoming linguistic discrimination (pp. 71 – 110). Berlin : Mouton de Gruyter.

Power Relations

  • Fairclough, N. (1989). Language and power. New York : Longman (Chapter 1 Introduction: Critical language study [pp. 1 – 15]).
  • Delpit, L. (1995). Other people’s children: Cultural conflict in the classroom. (Chapter 2 ~ The silenced dialogue: Power and pedagogy in educating other people’s children [pp. 21 – 47]).

Bilingualism & Bidialectism

  • Wei, Li (2000). Dimensions of bilingualism. In Li Wei (Ed.), The bilingualism reader (pp. 3 – 25). New York : Routledge.
  • Mackey, W. F. (2000). The description of bilingualism. In Li Wei (Ed.), The bilingualism reader (pp. 26 - 54). New York : Routledge.
  • Ramkissoon, I. , & Kahn, F. (2003). Serving multilingual clients with hearing loss: How linguistic diversity affects audiologic management. The ASHA Leader online. Retrieved from on 2/23/04 .
  • Hakuta, K. (1986). Mirror of language: The debate on bilingualism. New York : Basic Books. (Chapter 2 ~ Bilingualism and Intelligence [pp. 14 – 44]).

Language policy & Legislation

  • Cummins, J. (1995). The discourse of disinformation: The debate on bilingual education and language rights in the United States . In T. Skutnabb-Kangas & R. Phillipson (Eds.), Linguistic human rights: Overcoming linguistic discrimination (pp. 159 - -178). Berlin : Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Crawford, J. (1998). Anatomy of the English-Only movement: Social and ideological sources of language restrictionism in the United States. In Douglas A. Kibbee, (Ed.), Language, legislation, and linguistic rights, pp. 96-122. Philadelphia : John Benjamins Publishing Company.
  • Strong, M. (1999). The politics of sign language: Language planning for Deaf Americans. In T. Huebner & K. Davis (Eds.), Sociopolitical perspectives on language policy and planning in the USA . (pp. 193 – 204). Philadelphia : John Benjamins Publishing Co.
  • Schiffman, H. F. (1996). Linguistic culture and language policy. New York : Sage (Chapter 1 ~ Introduction: Language policy and linguistic culture [pp. 1 – 25]).
  • Relevant ASHA Position Statements and Technical Reports
  • Diana vs. State Board of Education (1973); Lau vs. Nichols (1974); PL 93-380 (1974); PL 94-142 (1975); Ann Arbor Decision (1979); English Only Amendment (1981); PL 99-457 (1986); IDEA 1997; Proposition 227


  • ASHA position statement on the role of speech-language pathologists with reading and writing.
  • National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management (1997). Consequences of Neonatal Hearing Loss retrieved from on 2/23/04 .


The outcome for Web Quests is usually a product, in most cases, in the form of a written/oral report or multimedia presentation.

Oral Presentation & Discussion

Based on the work you completed for this activity prepare a power point presentation and handout for the class. During this presentation demonstrate an acquired understanding between the contexts in Senegal and one other country. Analyze the cases and engage your colleagues in a discussion comparing and contrasting the cases. Specific presentations should include:

  1. Identification of the problems or issues presented in each case.
  2. Analyze from various (i.e. divergent) perspectives, the issues that contribute to the problem (i.e., identify similarities and differences between the cases).
  3. Include in your presentations responses to the queries posed within each case.
  4. Propose various strategies for addressing the problem/issues presented in each case


Effective Web Quests have a built in mechanism for student reflections. To receive feedback, you can survey your students about their experience, or have the students send you an e-mail sharing their thoughts.

Write a reflection summarizing the impact that this activity has had on your thinking about your professional field and your responsibilities in that field. In other words, what was new and useful, and what was confirmation of your previously existing knowledge before engaging in this activity.

I would like to publish copies of your presentations and reflections on the Cultural Connections web page. If this is agreeable to you, please submit an electronic copy to me at

Copyright © Yvette D. Hyter May 2004