Winter 2008     ISSN 1096-1453     Volume 12, Issue 4     Editorial (2)
Languages, Cultural Contact and the Role of Education
Population movements across  the world have resulted in cross-cultural and
linguistic contacts that have generated new linguistic varieties and ways of 
interaction.  This reality leads communities to make certain decisions about 
the maintenance or shift of their culture and language and, consequently, to 
reflect on the need to redefine themselves and to rethink their identity. In 
this process, cultural similarities and differences are brought together within 
societies and provide a corpus of knowledge as well as a target of study.  
Cultural contact has become a central topic in an education system that promotes 
diversity, respects democracy, and intends to prepare individuals for the 
globalized world.

In this context the role of education confronts new challenges.  Language policies 
and curriculum design must be reconsidered.  Empowerment and recognition of 
minorities in an increasingly diverse society call for attention as well. 
Furthermore, the teaching of heritage language in diverse communities is a central 
focus of debate.  Thus, the discussion about the teaching of second languages and 
the selection of language varieties that should be taught gains momentum. 

This issue of Academic Exchange Quarterly includes research on American English 
and international languages. It presents research on the relationship of language, 
society and education. Pasquale, Ferwerda and Pearson study language contact and 
linguistic variation in regard to identity construction within the Chicano 
community in the United States. Fridland analyzes convergence and divergence in 
American-English dialects and the impact of language change on intra-regional 
diversity within the United States. Malko examines language ideologies and 
acculturation strategies among Russian-speaking students in the western United 
States.  From an applied linguistic perspective, several studies focus on 
socio-cultural factors that affect second language learning. Hummel discusses 
the influence of social context on native French-speaking students learning 
English in Quebec.  Based on her personal experience teaching American students, 
Gorlach looks at intercultural issues of the teaching-learning process involved 
in.  Porras discusses the advantages of using a bidialectal approach to teach 
Spanish to Heritage Students in the United States.  Huang studies the 
conceptualization of the role of English in the lives of Taiwanese English 
learners, underscoring the lack of awareness of important power relations related 
to these conceptualizations.  Tong analyzes the cultural impact of second language 
learning in Chinese college students, stressing the inseparability of language and 
culture. Finally, Rodríguez-González investigates the preterite pattern of 
acquisition by Spanish language learners and its implications for teaching.  

We have no doubt that these articles will be a helpful source for teachers and 
scholars. I believe the findings of the research examined in these studies are 
an important contribution to the academic discussion on the teaching and learning 
of languages as well as on the social, cultural and educational aspects related to 
linguistic variation, language contact, and language instruction and learning.

Margarita Jara, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Spanish
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
See all published LANGUAGE articles.