Stanford University Initiative
for the
Maximization of
Language Resources


Research Affiliates

Joshua Fishman

Dr. Joshua Fishman is Distinguished University Research Professor of Social Sciences, Emeritus, at Yeshiva University (New York) and Visiting Professor of Education at Stanford University.

The following information is taken from Spolsky, B. (1999) Concise Encyclopedia of Educational Linguistics. Amsterdam: ESEVIER.

Joshua Fishman is acknowledged as the founder of sociology of language, a spirited advocate of bilingual education in the USA, and a sympathetic friend of all groups who strive to maintain their ancestral languages.

Born on July 18, 1926, in Philadelphia, PA, he was educated there in public schools, at Olney High school, in elementary, secondary, and tertiary level Yiddish schools and courses, and, from 1944-48, at the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned BS and MS degrees. In the summer of 1948, he studied Yiddish, the language of his home and his Jewish education, at UCLA with Max Weinreich, the doyen of Yiddish linguistics, at the same time as did the latter’s son Uriel Weinrech. His first scholarly article appeared, in Yiddish shprakh, in 1947; in 1949 he received a prize from the Yiddish Scientific Institute for an unpublished monograph on bilingualism (subsequently published in 1951.) In 1951, he married Gella Schweid, they have three sons and Yiddish has remained the home language for them, their children, and grandchildren.

From 1951-54, he was educational psychologist for the Jewish Education Committee of New York, at the same time studying social psychology at Columbia University, where he gained a PhD in 1953. From 1955-58, he directed research for the College Entrance Examination Board, combining this with teaching the sociology of language (disguised as social psychology) at City College (CUNY). In 1958, he became associate professor of human relations and psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, but 2 years later moved to Yeshiva University, New York, as professor of psychology and sociology; from 1960-66, he was also Dean of the Ferkauf Graduate School of Social Sciences and Humanities. In 1966, he became Distinguished University Research Professor of Social Sciences; from 1973-75, he served as academic vice president; and, in 1988, became professor emeritus. He then began to divide the year between New York (where he has also become a Visiting Professor at New York University and at City University of New York Graduate Center, while maintaining his teaching connection with Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology at Yeshiva University) and California (where he has become visiting professor of Education and Linguistics at Stanford University). Four Festschriften were published in his honor by colleagues and former students on the occasion of his 65th birthday in 1991, each volume dealing with a different area of his specialization, and the Linguistic Institute of the Linguistic Society of America conducted a 4-day conference in his honor at this time.

In the course of his career, Fishman has held visiting appointments at well over a dozen universities in the USA, Israel, and the Philippines, and fellowships at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (Stanford, CA), the East-West Center (Honolulu), the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton, NJ), the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (Wassenar), and the Israel Institute for Advanced Study (Jerusalem).

Beginning with a number of publications on educational testing, he completed in 1964 his first major study of the sociology of language, Language Loyalty in the United States. A year later, Yiddish in America, appeared. In 1968, he published three major books: Bilingualism in the Barrio (a pioneering study of a multilingual community), Language Problems of Developing Nations (the earliest major collection in language planning), and Readings in the Sociology of Language (a first attempt to define the new field). His prolific publication continued, amounting by now to over 900 items which have shaped and defined modern scholarly study of bilingualism and multilingualism, bilingual and minority education, the relation of language and thought, the sociology and the social history of Yiddish , language planning, language spread, language shift, language and nationalism, language and ethnicity, and (most recently) ethnic and national efforts to reverse language shift. Since its founding in 1973, he has edited the International Journal of the Sociology of Language. Some of his most influential works, authored or edited, are Language and Nationalism (1972 [1989]), "Never Say Die!; A Thousand Years of Yiddish" in Jewish Life and Letters (1981), Language and Ethnicity in Minority Perspective (1989), Yiddish: Turning of Life (1991), The Earliest Stage of Language Planning (1993), Post-Imperial English (1995), The Multilingual Apple: Languages in New York (1997), and the Handbook of Language and Ethnicity (1999). Together with Gella Fishman he has also established the extensive five-generational ‘Fishman Family Archives’ at Stanford University Libraries, including his correspondence, course notes and outlines, lecture notes, manuscripts of his books, and papers and recordings/videos of his talks.

His work is preeminent for the meticulous analysis of large bodies of data collected in major surveys using the methods of sociology and, more recently , it has also incorporated the exhaustive elucidation and interpretation of archival material. For a quarter century he has conducted a column on Yiddish and general socio-linguistics in every issue of the quarterly Afn Shvel. Since 1996 he has also written on Yiddish and general sociolinguistic topics once a month for the weekly "Forverts." Currently being prepared for publication are Test Construction for Research Purposes and Can Threatened Languages be Saved? All his scholarly work with minority ethnic groups and with minority ethnic groups and with others engaged in the struggle to preserve their languages and traditions has been inspired by a deep and heartfelt compassion that has always sustained the markedly human tone in his most objective writings.

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Guadalupe Valdés

Professor of Spanish and Portugese and Professor of Education


Guadalupe Valdés is a Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and in the School of Education at Stanford University. She works in the areas of sociolinguistics and applied linguistics.

Much of Valdés' work has focused on the English-Spanish bilingualism of Latinos in the United States and on discovering and describing how two languages are developed, used, and maintained by individuals who become bilingual in immigrant communities. This research has been concerned with examining language use in bilingual settings (e.g. code-switching, language accommodation, language maintenance, and the use of language in school and courtroom settings) and with applying the information obtained from such descriptions to the educational context. Valdés' recent work in this area includes two forthcoming books entitled: Learning and not Learning English (Teachers College Press) and Expanding Definitions of Giftedness: Young Interpreters of Immigrant Background (Lawrence Erlbaum). Two recent books include: Bilingualism and Testing: A Special Case of Bias (Ablex Publishing Co.,1994) and Con respeto: Bridging the distance between culturally diverse families and schools (Teachers College Press, 1996). Her recent articles include: "Chicano Spanish: The Problem of the 'Underdeveloped’ Code in Bilingual Repertoires" in Modern Language Journal. (1998); "The World Outside and Inside Schools: Language and Immigrant Children" Educational Researcher.(1998); "Dual Language Immersion Programs: A Cautionary Note Concerning the Education of Language Minority Students." Harvard Educational Review. (1997); and "Nonnative English Speakers: Language Bigotry in English Mainstream Classrooms." ADFL Bulletin.(1999).

Valdés' other work on language diversity has focused on language-based discrimination and on the policy problems that confront bilingual individuals who are residents of monolingual nations. Recent publications in this area include: "Bilinguals and Bilingualism: Language Policy in an Anti-immigrant Age." in the International Journal of the Sociology of Language, (1997) and "Bilingual Individuals and Language-Based Discrimination: Advancing the State of the Law on Language Rights" (forthcoming in Roseann D. Gonzalez, ed. Language Ideologies: Critical Perspectives on the Official English Movement. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English).

Since the mid 1970’s, Valdés has been involved in research surrounding efforts to maintain and preserve heritage languages among minority populations. Much of her work has focused on the teaching of Spanish to college and university Hispanophone students in this country. Her publications in this area include an edited volume of articles entitled: Teaching Spanish to the Hispanic Bilingual: Issues, Aims and Methods. (Valdés, Lozano, and García-Moya, eds. Teachers College Press, 1981) and numerous articles including: "The Role of the Foreign Language Teaching Profession in Maintaining Non-English Languages in the United States." in Languages for a Multicultural World in Transition. National Textbook Company, 1992; "The Teaching of Minority Languages as 'Foreign' Languages: Pedagogical and Theoretical Challenges" (Modern Language Journal, 1995) and "Teaching Spanish to Hispanic Bilinguals: A Look at Oral Proficiency Testing and the Proficiency Movement." (Hispania, 1989).

Valdés is also the co-author of two Spanish language textbooks that focus on the teaching of Spanish to Hispanic bilinguals. Español Escrito (first published by Scribners in 1978 and now published by Prentice Hall) is now in its fourth edition. Cómo se escribe: curso de secundaria para estudiantes bilingües was published by Scribners in 1982.

Valdés' other work in applied linguistics has concentrated on the teaching of Spanish to monolingual speakers of English. Recent publications in this area include: "The Construct of the Near-Native Speaker in the Foreign Language Profession: Perspectives on Ideologies of Language." ADFL Bulletin (1998); "The Development of Writing Abilities in a Foreign Language: Contributions toward a General Theory of L2 Writing" Modern Language Journal (1992); and "The Development of Listening Skills within a Comprehension Based Program: What Levels of Proficiency Can Learners Reach?" (Modern Language Journal, 1988) . She is a co-author of the popular Spanish composition textbook Composición: Proceso y síntesis (published by McGraw Hill) now in its third edition.

Valdés’ current research includes a project entitled: "Inscription Rich, Computer-Mediated Instructional Materials for English Language Learners in Mathematics" which is funded by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI). Working with Professor Bernard Gifford of UC Berkeley, she is developing design principles for teaching subject matter and English using a computer environment. Valdés’ other current project is funded by the Spencer Foundation and is entitled "The Teaching of Spanish as a Heritage Language: Toward the Development of a Coherent Language-Education Policy." This project (carried out with the collaboration of Professor Joshua Fishman) examines the Spanish language needs of successful Latino Professionals in California and the ways in which secondary and post-secondary instruction in Spanish has responded to these needs.

Valdés is active in a number of professional associations. She has been a member of the Committee on the Role and Status of Women of the Modern Language Association and the American Educational Research Association and a member of the Task Force on National Standards in Foreign Language Education. She serves on the editorial boards of several journals including Review of Educational Research, Bilingual Review, Written Communication, Modern Language Journal, and Hispanic Journal of the Behavioral Sciences. She is the current chair of the editorial board of the Modern Language Association's series on Teaching Languages, Literatures and Cultures and a member of the Board of Testing and Assessment of the National Academy of Education.

Rebecca Chavez

Rebecca Chavez is the principle research assistant for the Heritage Language Project. She received her Bachelors of Arts in Latin American Studies with a minor in Spanish from Stanford University in 1999. During her junior year she spent 6 months abroad studying in Santiago, Chile. Her time abroad motivated her to write a Senior Honors thesis focusing on the U.S. involvement in Chilean politics prior to the coup d’etat in 1973, which addressed the subject of how U.S. foreign policy is created. She went on to receive her Masters in Education from Stanford University with an emphasis in Language, Learning and Policy in 2000. Under the guidance of Professors Guadalupe Valdes and Kenji Hakuta Ms. Chavez wrote a masters thesis entitled, “Motivations of Adult Immigrants Studying English as a Second Language.” Before working for Professors Guadalupe Valdes and Joshua Fishman, she has held many jobs in the field of education ranging from teaching ESL to adults at Stanford Medical Center to assisting in the design of elementary school curriculum relating to Mexico-U.S. relations with the Stanford Program for International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE).



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