November 16, 2021

In the past couple of posts, we have discussed the power of language policy orientations and ideologies.

In the language planning research, these two phrases have been (at times) used interchangeably. However, in my doctoral dissertation, I chose to separate the two concepts to intersect them in order to demonstrate how the intersection of these two theories can have significantly different outcomes.

Orientations (what we do) and ideologies (what we believe) can intersect to have different outcomes depending on the combination of ideological orientations, especially for those who identify as multilingual versus those who do not (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

This intersection initially demonstrated five categories.

Restrictive/Problem ex. “You do not know the dominant language so cannot do anything.”

Promotion/Problem ex. “You do not know the dominant language, I will help you learn the dominant language because that is most important.”

Tolerance/Right ex. “What you know, you can practice at home, here we give you skills to survive in the dominant language.”

Restrictive/Resource ex. “Multilingualism is great if you speak English first.” #elitebilingualism

Promotion/Resource ex. “Multilingualism is valuable, for everyone. The language that you speak at home is as important as the dominant language in a school/organization.”

However, my research supported examples of additional ideological orientations (see Figure 2).

Tolerance/Problem ex. “You don’t know the dominant language so I will do what I can to not break the law when working with you if I must.”

Tolerance/Resource ex. “What you know is valuable, but we have limited resources and can’t help you at our school (organization). But we’ll celebrate you on diversity night.”

Restrictive/Right ex. “You have the right to access English only, other languages are restricted.”

Promotion/Right ex. “You have a right to maintain your home language AND access additional languages, and we will work to continuously incorporate them in our setting.”

Figure 2

Two key findings from the research that I completed are as follows.

#1 In an analysis of 290 school districts, coding according to orientations, the majority of them were identified as tolerance orientation. See “Which Way Do We Go” Blog post for the implications of Tolerance Orientation (Rivera Pagán, 2021).

#2 There must be a promotion orientation within your ideological orientation to “move the needle” towards equity. A Right and a Resource ideology can be supportive. But if we want to enact change there needs to be a specific and active effort to orient towards promoting and creating space for multilingualism (Rivera Pagán, 2021).

On the website, I have created and made available various resources to consider your personal (and/or your organization’s) current language ideology, language orientations, and/or position in the framework. Click here.

(Note: For a detailed (oral/captioned) explanation of the framework you can find a video on Youtube.)

Keep in mind:

We are working within a variety of systems that interact with one another. Use your reflection as a reminder of your agency and to support your advocacy efforts.

Nothing is fixed. If your ideological orientations are manifesting as you wish, you must keep doing the work to see how your talk and your walk align. Conversely, if you are not where you would like to be, you can begin to reflect and adjust practices accordingly starting today.

Regardless of your position within the framework, this is not a personal attack. Critical reflection helps us all grow and work towards better systems and structures.


Dra. Rivera Pagán


Rivera Pagán, X. (2021, April 28-29). Conceptual Framework: Intersection of Orientations and Ideologies within Educational Language Policies [Conference Presentation]. NABE 2021 Conference, Houston, TX, United States.

Rivera Pagán, X. (2021). How Language Policy Orientations Relate to Outcomes: A Mixed-Methods Analysis [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Notre Dame of Maryland University.

P.S. If you would like to share your experiences with language policies, comment on this blog post 🗣🎧📖✍🏽👀🤟🏽

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