Box #2: Language Policy & Literacy

Course Plan


Yvette D. Hyter, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Assistant Professor
Department of Speech Pathology & Audiology
Western Michigan University
616-387-8025 ~ ~ 301 SPHC

Course Description (as presented in the graduate catalogue):

This graduate seminar will examine the relationship between communication, language and culture, and our role as speech-language pathologists and audiologists charged with providing culturally sensitive and family centered services. Discussion topics include but are not limited to: social construction of race and culture; provision of family centered and culturally appropriate services to infants, children, and their families; and the impact of standard language policies and legislation on the acquisition of literacy. The primary goal of this course will be to explore similarities and differences of communication across cultures and to help seminar participants learn how to communicate and work more effectively with people from cultural and linguistic backgrounds different than their own.

Professor Notes:

Seminar participants will explore such concepts as bilingualism , bidialectism , literacy , language policies and legislation , in the context of globalization , migration , and changing demographics in the U. S. and abroad. Discussions will focus on the impact of the national and international context on our role as speech-language pathologists required to serve an increasingly diverse population, which includes individuals and families from cultural and linguistic backgrounds different than our own.

The primary objectives of this course are to (1) understand how language and communication processes fit into a larger social, political, and economical context, and (2) understand the implications of this larger context for collaborative assessment and intervention services. Seminar participants will be strongly encouraged to think critically about our provision of services, and to become more aware of how our personal and professional practices may impact the cross-cultural interactions in which we engage daily. Furthermore, participants will develop action plans for changing current practices to reflect a more culturally sensitive, family-centered, and collaborative model.

Participants are expected to take responsibility and ownership of this seminar. I believe that each member of this seminar brings knowledge to the seminar and has something valuable to add to the seminar. We can all learn from each other. Each participant is a resource and is therefore beneficial to the other participants. It is my hope that we will work to learn collaboratively, which includes all seminar participants suggesting readings and leading the discussion of course topics during the semester.

Course Organization

This course is organized into five major units :

  1. Defining concepts (Human Rights, Power Relations, Globalization, Migration, Language Policy and Literacy, Marginalization, Popular Culture, Bilingualism, Bidialectism, Family Centered Practices),
  2. Connecting the concepts: We will focus on identifying relationships between the concepts of study. Are the concepts connected? If so, how? What are the similarities? If not, what are the differences?
  3. Understanding the implications of the connected concepts for collaborative assessment and intervention speech-language and audiology services,
  4. Operationalizing the concepts and their connections (i.e., organizing concepts into a real life schemas) through the development, analysis, and presentation of case studies,
  5. Developing action plans that move our fields into more culturally sensitive and family focused processes utilizing a global focus.

For each unit, we will utilize critical and dialectical thinking skills to explore questions, identify the consequences of the context, and propose solutions.

Be prepared to respond to the following questions about each of the units and themes:
  • How are the concepts defined?
    1. Globalization,
    2. Migration,
    3. Bilingualism,
    4. Bidialectism,
    5. Language Policy,
    6. Literacy,
    7. Marginalization,
    8. Popular culture,
    9. Family Centered Practices,
    10. Culturally and Linguistically Sensitive Practices
  • What do the operationalization of these concepts change?
  • How do these concepts affect human rights and relations of power?
  • How do current speech-language pathology and audiology practices impact these issues? How do the issues impact current speech-language pathology and audiology practices?
  • How do we change current speech-language and audiology services to have a more positive impact on the issues? How do we move from theory to practice?

You should be prepared to provide evidence (journal articles, book chapters, news accounts of interviews with several individuals in a community, etc.) to support your arguments/responses.

Recommended Texts and Readings :

  • Goldstein, B. (2000). Cultural and linguistic diversity resource guide for speech-language pathologists . San Diego , CA : Singular Publishing Group.
  • Lynch, E.W., & Hanson, M.J. (1998). Developing cross-cultural competence: A guide for working with children and their families, second edition. Baltimore , MD : Paul H. Brookes.
  • Roseberry-McKibbin, C. (2002). Multicultural Students with Special Language Needs: Practical
  • Strategies for Assessment and Intervention. Academic Communications Association; Spiral edition.

A packet of articles will be provided to pairs of students. The reference list containing selected and potential readings is attached to this syllabus. Feel free to add to the reference list as you find/discover articles.

Course Requirements:

This course requires class participation, which will include being prepared to participate in and lead discussions based on weekly readings and case studies. Additional requirements include working in small groups to develop, analyze, and present a case study based on the topics discussed in the seminar.


Class Participation (40% of grade). Class participation includes completing readings weekly and being prepared to provide critical analyses of the readings. It is anticipated that each of you will read and be prepared to discuss at least one to two articles each week, and that no more than two individuals will read any one of the assigned readings. For example, if there are 6 articles assigned for any one day, it is expected that only two individuals will read article one, two will read article two, and so forth. This shared reading will promote discussion of the articles during the seminar and will also provide the opportunity for you to process what you are reading. For each reading that you complete, you are expected to:

  • Provide bibliographic information (i.e., title, author, and source) on the article/reading
  • Summarize the purpose and main points of the article/reading
  • Connect the reading with the organizing questions (see page 2)
  • Discuss agreements and disagreements with other articles examined.
  • Integrate information from other articles and class discussions into the topic at hand
  • Inform classmates about other works/articles/readings related to the topic and that present alternative views about the topic.
  • Provide examples that support or refute the author's primary arguments that go beyond personal experience.
  • Raise questions and issues for discussion purposes.

Small Group Case Study Oral Presentation and Discussion (40% of grade). Case studies will be completed in groups of two or three individuals. During the first half of the semester, case examples from West Africa , South Africa , Québec, and Mexico will be used to illustrate the relationship between globalization, migration, language policy, literacy, and the implications for speech-language and audiology services. Then, seminar participants will be required to demonstrate acquired understanding of the relationship between globalization, migration, language policy, literacy, and culturally sensitive and family centered speech-language pathology and audiology services by analyzing a case examples from the U. S. context. In short, seminar participants will analyze a case example provided by Dr. Hyter, and then present the analysis, and engage other seminar participants in a discussion regarding the case. Specific case presentations should adhere to the following format:

  1. Identification of the problems or issues presented in the case
  2. Analyze from various (i.e., divergent) perspectives, the issues that contribute to the problem (i.e., identify similarities and differences between the case being analyzed and the information reviewed during the course of the semester)
  3. Propose various strategies for addressing the problem/issues presented in the case

Individual and Written Action Plans (20% of grade)

  1. Choose a concept that is important to you, that you have had experience with through your clinical placements, or that you think is a possibility of having experience with through your professional practice. This concept must fall in line with the concepts we have been discussing throughout the semester.
  2. Describe a problem or concern that you have with this particular concept. The identified problem must be supported with more than personal opinion - it must be supported with information from the literature. Further, the description of the program must take into consideration various perspectives about the identified problems or concern.
  3. Propose a plan of action to address the problem with this particular concept as a speech-language pathologist or audiologist. This proposed action plan should include information regarding the advantages and disadvantages of the plan, and how you would address the disadvantages.

Course Readings are presented in the order of the discussion topic. Each working group is required to prepare one reading from each topic for every class meeting.

Work Group # Topic and Reading Assignments

Human Rights

ALL UN Declaration of Human Rights available from 1, 2, 3, & 4.

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

1. & 2.

Fairclough, N. (1989). Language and power . New York : Longman (Chapter 1 ~ Introduction: Critical language study [pp. 1 - 15]).

3. & 4. 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]).


1. & 2.

Brecher, J., & Costello, T. (1998). Global village or global pillage: Economic reconstruction from the bottom up . 2 nd edition (Introduction: pp. 3 - 11).

3. & 4.

Skutnabb-Kangas, T. (1999). Linguistic diversity, human rights, and the "free" market. In M. Kontra, R. Phillipson, T. Skutnabb-Kangas, and T. Várady (Eds.), Language: A right and a resource. Approaching linguistic human rights (pp. 187 - 222). New York : Central European University Press.


1. & 2. 3. & 4.

Bilingualism and Bidialectism

1. Wei, Li (2000). Dimensions of bilingualism. In Li Wei (Ed.), The bilingualism reader (pp. 3 - 25). New York : Routledge.

2. Mackey, W. F. (2000). The description of bilingualism. In Li Wei (Ed.), The bilingualism reader (pp. 26 - 54). New York : Routledge.

3. 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 .

4. Hakuta, K. (1986). Mirror of language: The debate on bilingualism . New York : Basic Books. (Chapter 2 ~ Bilingualism and Intelligence [pp. 14 - 44]).


Readings in Goldstein pertaining to bilingualism and bidialectism.

Language Policy & Legislation

1.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.

2. 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.

3.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.

4. 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


1. & 2

ASHA position statement on the role of speech-language pathologists with reading and writing.

3. & 4

National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management (1997). Consequences of Neonatal Hearing Loss retrieved from on 2/23/04 .

Popular Culture

1. & 2.

We will review and discuss film clips that depict the issues that we have been discussing in class.

3. & 4.

We will review and discuss film clips that depict the issues that we have been discussing in class.

Family Centered Practices

1. Beverly, C. L., & Thomas, S. B. (1999). Family assessment and collaboration building: Conjoined processes. International Journal of Disability, Development, and Education, 46 (2), 179-197.

2. Crozier, G. (1999). Is it a case of "We know when we're not wanted?" The parents' perspective on parent-teacher roles and relationships. Educational Research, 1 (3), 315-328.

3. Wayman, K., Lynch, B., & Hanson, M. (1990). Home-based early childhood services: Cultural sensitivity in a family systems approach. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 10 (4), 56-75.

4. Westby, C.E., StevensDominguez, M., & Oetter, P. (1996). A performance/competence model of observational assessment. Language Speech and Hearing Services in Schools, 27 (2), 144-156.

Culturally and Linguistically Sensitive Practices

1. Buchanan, L., Moore, E., & Counter, S.A. (1993). Hearing disorders and auditory assessment. In D. Battle (Ed.), Communication disorders in multicultural populations (pp. 256-286). Boston : Andover Medical Publishers

2. Van Kleeck, A. (1994). Potential cultural bias in training parents as conversational partners with their children who have delays in language development . American Journal of Speech-Language-Pathology, 3 (1), 67-77.

3. Scott, D. (2000). Managing hearing impairment in culturally diverse children. In T. Coleman (Ed.), Clinical management of communication disorders in culturally diverse children, pp. 271-295. Needham Heights , MA : Allyn & Bacon.

4. Wyatt, T. (1998). Assessment issues with multicultural populations. In D.E. Battle (Ed.), Communication disorders in multicultural populations (2 nd ed.). Newton , MA : Butterworth-Heinemann. (Chapters 13)

Additional Readings/Resources:

Cross-Cultural Competence
  • Coleman, T. J. (2000). Clinical management of communication disorders in culturally diverse children . ( Chapter 1 : Key terms and concepts [pp. 3 - 12] and Chapter 2 : Culturally appropriate service delivery: Some considerations [pp. 13 - 30])
  • Green, L. (2002). African American English: A linguistic introduction . Cambridge : Cambridge University Press. ( Introduction : 1 - 8 and Chapter 8 : Approaches, attitudes, and education, pg. 216 - 244).
  • Lynch, E. W., & Hanson, M. J. (1998). Developing cross-cultural competence: A guide for working with children and families. 2 nd edition. ( Chapter 3 : Developing cross-cultural competence [pp. 47 - 90]).
Africa (West & South)
  • Reports from Dr. Hyter regarding Language Policy and Literacy in Senegal ( West Africa )
  • Smitherman, G. (2000). Talkin that talk: Language, culture, and education in African America . New York : Routledge (Chapter regarding south African language policies)
  • Phillipson, R., & Skutnabb-Kangas, T.(1995). Language rights in postcolonial Africa . In T. Skutnabb-Kangas & R. Phillipson (Eds.), Linguistic human rights: Overcoming linguistic discrimination . (pp. 335 - 346). New York : Mouton de Gruyter.
  • [NEW LINK NEEDED] 2/23/04 report on Afrikaans
  • Daoust, (1990). A decade of language planning in Québec: A sociopolitical overview. In B. Weinstein (Ed.), Language policy and political development . Beverly Hills : Sage.
Latin America (Mexico & Brazil)
  • Hamel, R. E. (1995). Linguistic rights for Amerindian peoples in Latin America . In T. Skutnabb-Kangas & R. Phillipson (Eds.), Linguistic human rights: Overcoming linguistic Discrimination (pp. 289 - 303). New York : Mouton de Gruyter.

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