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The Guide

Welcome to the Guide

The Guide to Exemplary Programs & Practices in U.S. Language Education (Guide) is a registry of exemplary, replicable, adaptable programs and practices that are showing the way forward for language education in the United States. Its purpose is to provide models of access and excellence that can be emulated and adapted by on-the-ground efforts to attract students from more diverse populations to effective language programming. Local communities always define and own their goals and implementation, but replicable exemplars can provide the confidence to innovate and take risks for the sake of serving a broader range of learners. In the end, the Guide and the expected groundswell of more accessible and effective programming it provokes can provide evidence that a firm basis exists for language education to be available in more languages and to all in this country who need or desire it. Simply put, the Guide demonstrates that the goal and recommendations of the Commission on Language Learning are not just feasible but being acted upon at the grass roots level.


Under the leadership of its Executive Committee and with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the America’s Languages Working Group (WG) has engaged  America’s Languages Fellows (ALF), distinguished educators from across the country, to nominate and select the exemplary programs catalogued according to the goals and recommendations of the 2017 report of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, America’s Language: Investing in Language Education in the 21st Century. 


More generally, the Guide’s programs and practices illustrate the accomplishments as well as the aspirations of the language education profession: broader and more equitable access, excellence in programming and instruction, and a more diverse portfolio of languages representative of America’s languages. The programs are selected for their potential to be transferable and scalable, resulting in further adoption, innovation, and investment throughout the education system. They are intended to provide confidence that the American education system can and does provide the language, culture, and intercultural skills this country needs. Building on this confidence, the language profession can pursue structural changes that better integrate effective instruction into the education system at all levels, ensuring its availability to all learners, regardless of social-economic status, race, ethnicity, location, and the language(s) they choose.

To reiterate the intent of the Guide: full and equal access to language education for:

  • The nation’s ‘marginalized bilinguals’ (Native American, heritage, immigrant and refuge) to ensure literacy and proficiency in the language of their home, tribe or community

  • Latinx populations, including English Learners (ELs)

  • Black and People of Color, as well as economically disadvantaged learners in rural and inner-city communities

This Access must be to many more of America’s Languages. While not neglecting our traditional ‘foreign’ or ‘world’ language offerings in French, German and Spanish, America’s Languages include the less commonly taught, including the languages of indigenous, heritage, immigrant, refugee, and Deaf/hard of hearing communities.


This access must be to demonstrably effective programming, where students attain functional language and literacy abilities equal to their needs and desires.



The Guide covers all languages, all educational levels, from PreK to community college to university graduate and professional; all student ambitions, from exposure to professional; all levels, from beginning to expert; all accredited institutions, including public, private, tribal, religious, and for-profit; all types of instructional delivery, from classroom to on-line and blended; and all venues, including heritage and Native American schools and programs, summer programs, overseas and dual language immersion, community college-business partnerships, and others. 


The Guide includes extended descriptions of exemplary programs and the themes they prioritize. The listing is accomplished through an open and continuing process, with programs and practices nominated and self-identified. However, the Guide is not intended as a comprehensive list of exemplary programs, let alone an inventory of all the country’s quality language programs. It carefully focuses on programs that show the way to access and excellence.  



The Guide has two goals:  First, to provide models of programs and practices that focus on improving equity and access to more effective learning, and to allow communities of practice to inspect and connect to these programs in order to adapt their exemplary practices to their specific contexts. Second, to serve as a continuing resource for attracting attention and support for language education now and into the future, demonstrating that success in teaching and learning America’s languages is not only possible, but very real and infused with grass roots energy and action.

Why do we do this? To learn, for example,

  • if you are a high school teacher, how to reach out to local heritage community schools & programs

  • if you are a school principal, how to approach faculty development that is responsive to students from refugee communities

  • if you are a Native American parent, how college programs accommodate your languages

  • if you are an Arabic high school student, which college programs are the best models for judging programs to apply to

  • if you are a state legislator, what other states are doing to support language education for heritage communities

  • if you are a private funder, where are the best places to invest resources

  • if you are a study abroad director, how to integrate in-country experience into campus programming for returning students

  • if you are a business, how to find language competent interns

  • if you are a teacher, examples of programs where enrollments are growing

  • If you are a principal, how Dual Language Immersion students successfully transition to middle and high school

  • Etc.