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Review of  The Handbook of Educational Linguistics

Reviewer: Alicia Pousada
Book Title: The Handbook of Educational Linguistics
Book Author: Bernard Spolsky Francis M. Hult
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
Issue Number: 21.3579

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EDITORS: Spolsky, Bernard & Hult, Francis M.
TITLE: The Handbook of Educational Linguistics
SERIES TITLE: Blackwell Handbooks in Linguistics
PUBLISHER: Wiley-Blackwell
YEAR: 2010

Alicia Pousada, English Department, University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras


This book is the 2010 paperback edition of 'The Handbook of Educational
Linguistics' originally published in hardcover format in 2008 (not reviewed on
LINGUIST at the time). It is an affordable, one-volume compendium that sums up
the increasingly complex and multidisciplinary field of educational linguistics
via focused yet processable articles written by an international group of
experts. It addresses the broad spectrum of theoretical perspectives, essential
themes, principal conclusions, and real world applications of educational
linguistic research. It should be extremely helpful in the clarification and
resolution of language education dilemmas world-wide that have resulted from the
dialectical processes of globalization and linguistic diversification. It is
directed at a well-educated, though diverse, audience, including school
policymakers and curriculum developers, linguistic researchers, language
teachers, and graduate students working in literacy campaigns, bilingual or
bidialectal education programs, programs for the deaf, and language
resuscitation efforts.

The editors of the handbook certainly have the credentials to carry out their
job. Bernard Spolsky, retired professor formerly of McGill University, Indiana
University, University of New Mexico, and Bar-Ilan University, is well-known to
anyone who has worked in any of the areas circumscribed within educational
linguistics. He posited the term ''educational linguistics'' back in 1974 and
wrote the first textbook dedicated to the topic in 1978. He has published
numerous books and articles on educational and applied linguistics and is also
the editor of the 1999 Concise Encyclopedia of Educational Linguistics (Spolsky
1974, 1978, 1999). Francis Hult is an Assistant Professor of Applied Linguistics
at the University of Texas at San Antonio and has taught at the University of
Pennsylvania and at Lund University in Sweden. He has written numerous articles
on language policy and planning and manages the Educational Linguistics List.

The first two of the 44 chapters paint with broad brushstrokes the outlines of
the field of educational linguistics. The next seven chapters discuss the
interdisciplinary links between educational linguistics and other
language-related fields, including neurobiology, psychology, anthropology,
sociology, political science, education, and theoretical linguistics. The 27
articles composing the core of the book address the themes of linguistically and
culturally responsive education, language education policy and management,
literacy development, language acquisition, and language assessment. The final
eight chapters of the handbook consider the recent contributions of research to
the practices of language/literacy instruction and assessment, in particular
with regard to indigenous, minority, and migrant communities. They additionally
pinpoint areas for future research involving the utilization of technology in
dealing with language problems and in rescuing endangered languages.

Table of Contents:

1. Introduction: What Is Educational Linguistics?: Bernard Spolsky (Bar-Ilan
2. The History and Development of Educational Linguistics: Francis M. Hult
(University of Texas at San Antonio).

Part I: Foundations for Educational Linguistics
3. Neurobiology of Language Learning: Laura Sabourin (University of Oregon) and
Laurie A. Stowe (University of Groningen).
4. Psycholinguistics: William C. Ritchie (Syracuse University) and Tej K. Bhatia
(Syracuse University).
5. Linguistic Theory: Richard Hudson (University College London).
6. Sociolinguistics and Sociology of Language: Rajend Mesthrie (University of
Cape Town).
7. Linguistic Anthropology: Stanton Wortham (University of Pennsylvania).
8. The Political Matrix of Linguistic Ideologies: Mary McGroarty (Northern
Arizona University).
9. Educational Linguistics and Education Systems: Joseph Lo Bianco (University
of Melbourne).

Part II: Core Themes
A. Linguistically and Culturally Responsive Education
10. The Language of Instruction Issue: Framing an Empirical Perspective: Stephen
L. Walter (Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics).
11. Bilingual and Biliterate Practices at Home and School: Iliana Reyes
(University of Arizona) and Luis C. Moll (University of Arizona).
12. Vernacular Language Varieties in Educational Settings: Research and
Development: Jeffrey Reaser (North Carolina State University) and Carolyn Temple
Adger (Center for Applied Linguistics).
13. Linguistic Accessibility and Deaf Children: Samuel J. Supalla (University of
Arizona) and Jody H. Cripps (Towson University).
14. Identity in Language and Literacy Education: Carolyn McKinney (University of
Witwatersrand) and Bonny Norton (University of British Columbia).
15. Postcolonialism and Globalization in Language Education: Hyunjung Shin
(University of Toronto) and Ryuko Kubota (University of North Carolina).
B. Language Education Policy and Management
16. Levels and Goals -- Central Frameworks and Local Strategies: Brian North
17. Language Acquisition Management Inside and Outside the School: Richard B.
Baldauf Jr (University of Queensland), Minglin Li (Ludong University) and
Shouhui Zhao (Nanyang Technological University).
18. Language Cultivation in Developed Contexts: Ji?í Nekvapil (Charles University).
19. Language Cultivation in Contexts of Multiple Community Languages: M. Paul
Lewis (SIL International) and Barbara Trudell (SIL International).
20. Ecological Language Education Policy: Nancy H. Hornberger (University of
Pennsylvania) and Francis M. Hult (University of Texas at San Antonio).
21. Education for Speakers of Endangered Languages: Teresa L. McCarty (Arizona
State University), Tove Skutnabb-Kangas (University of Roskilde) and Ole Henrik
Magga (Saami University College).
22. The Impact of English on the School Curriculum: Yun-Kyung Cha (Hanyang
University) and Seung-Hwan Ham (Michigan State University).
C. Literacy Development
23. Literacy: Glynda A. Hull (University of California, Berkeley) and Gregorio
Hernandez (University of California, Berkeley).
24. Vernacular and Indigenous Literacies: Kendall A. King (Georgetown
University) and Carol Benson (Stockholm University).
25. Religious and Sacred Literacies: Jonathan M. Watt (Geneva College) and Sarah
L. Fairfield (Geneva College).
26. Genre and Register in Multiliteracies: Mary Macken-Horarik (University of
Canberra) and Misty Adoniou (University of Canberra).
D. Acquiring a Language
27. Order of Acquisition and Developmental Readiness: Kathleen Bardovi-Harlig
(Indiana University) and Llorenç Comajoan (University of Vic).
28. Language Socialization: Kathleen C. Riley (Concordia University).
29. Interlanguage and Language Transfer: Peter Skehan (Chinese University of
Hong Kong).
30. Second Language Acquisition and Ultimate Attainment: David Birdsong
(University of Texas) and Jee Paik (University of Texas).
31. Explicit Form-focused Instruction and Second Language Acquisition: Rod Ellis
(University of Auckland).
E. Language Assessment
32. Language Assessments: Gate-keepers or Door Openers?: Lyle F. Bachman
(University of California, Los Angeles) and James E. Purpura (Teachers College,
33. Diagnostic and Formative Assessment: Ari Huhta (University of Jyväskylä).
34. Accountability and Standards: Alan Davies (University of Edinburgh).
35. Scales and Frameworks: Neil Jones (University of Cambridge) and Nick Saville
(University of Cambridge).
36. Nationally Mandated Testing for Accountability: English Language Learners in
the U.S.: Micheline Chalhoub-Deville (University of North Carolina) and Craig
Deville (Measurement Inc.).

Part III: Research-Practice Relationships.
37. Task-based Teaching and Learning: Teresa Pica (University of ennsylvania).
38. Corpus Linguistics and Second Language Instruction: Susan M. Conrad and
Kimberly R. LeVelle (Portland State University).
39. Interaction, Output, and Communicative Language Learning: Merrill Swain
(University of Toronto) and Wataru Suzuki (University of Toronto).
40. Classroom Discourse and Interaction: Reading Across the Traditions: Lesley
Rex (University of Michigan) and Judith Green (University of California, Santa
41. Computer Assisted Language Learning: Carol Chapelle (Iowa State University).
42. Ecological-semiotic Perspectives on Educational Linguistics: Leo van Lier
(Monterey Institute of International Studies).
43. The Mediating Role of Language in Teaching and Learning: A Classroom
Perspective: Frances Bailey (School for International Training), Beverley
Burkett (Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University) and Donald Freeman (School for
International Training).
44. A Research Agenda for Educational Linguistics: Paola Uccelli (Harvard
Graduate School of Education) and Catherine Snow (Harvard Graduate School of


While all of the articles are useful in different ways, they are far too
numerous and their scope far too ample to permit individual evaluation in this
review. However, a few points bear highlighting for anyone seeking to utilize
the handbook in educating or informing others.

First of all, this is not a textbook and is best utilized as a reference book or
supplementary reader. A number of the articles naturally review overlapping
literature and can become repetitious if read one after the other. Second, given
the small space allocated for each article (approximately 10 pages), there is a
tendency to rush through the explanations of complex theories and procedures.
Graduate students (and other potential users like program planners or grant
writers) should be encouraged to read the articles that are most useful to them
in order to get a general idea of the major points of contention and then
explore the specifics further in the list of sources given. Lastly, there is
considerable coverage of classic references which may initially appear to the
modern reader to be less than relevant in the 21st century. It is vital that
these vintage sources be given due recognition for their groundbreaking status,
and it is crucial that the process of creating research of all kinds be seen as
the dynamic and historically contextualized unfolding of understandings that it is.

Overall, Spolsky & Hult offer a varied and valuable treatment of key language
questions faced by educators and government planners today. They allow a
newcomer to get a sense of the breadth and depth of the field of educational
linguistics, while providing veterans with useful summaries and analyses of past
and current investigations. Graduate students and researchers will especially
appreciate the extensive bibliographic sources listed at the end of each
chapter, including Internet references, and the creative and potent suggestions
for future research that is geared toward improving the linguistic experiences
of speakers around the world.


Spolsky, B. (1974). The Navajo Reading Study: An illustration of the scope and
nature of educational linguistics. In J. Quistgaard, H. Schwarz & H.
Spong-Hanssen (Eds.). Applied linguistics: Problems and solutions: Proceedings
of the third congress on applied linguistics, Copenhagen (pp. 553-565).
Heidelberg: Julius Gros Verlag.

Spolsky, B. (1978). Educational linguistics: An introduction. Rowley, MA:
Newbury House.

Spolsky, B. (1999). Concise encyclopedia of educational linguistics.
Amsterdam/New York: Elsevier.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER Alicia Pousada received her Ph. D. in Educational Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania, one of the first graduates of the program initiated by the late Dell Hymes. Since 1987, she has taught linguistics in the English Department of the College of Humanities at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras. She directs the Lewis C. Richardson Seminar Room, a graduate research center dedicated to language and literature of the English-speaking world with particular emphasis on the Caribbean. Her publications and presentations focus on language policy and planning, multilingualism, and teaching of English as an Auxiliary Language world-wide.

Format: Paperback
ISBN: 1444331043
ISBN-13: 9781444331042
Pages: 704
Prices: U.S. $ 54.95