University of Calgary

Thomas Ricento

  • Professor Emeritus of Education


Dr. Ricento was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. His B.A. (Political Science) is from Gettysburg College; his M.A. (Applied Linguistics) is from the University of Southern California and his Ph.D. (Applied Linguistics) is from U.C.L.A. He was a Fulbright Scholar in Colombia (1989) and Costa Rica (2000). He has received research grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Russell Sage Foundation, among other funders. He is the first North American Research Chair in English as an Additional Language. Since arriving at the U of C in 2007, Dr. Ricento has led several research projects on the status and education of various populations, including immigrants/migrants, refugees, and students in bilingual education programs. He has published widely in the areas of language policy, critical discourse analysis, English as a global language, language ideologies, and language and political economy. He is fluent in Spanish and has been a visiting professor and invited speaker at universities in England, Germany, Japan, Spain, Switzerland, Chile, Colombia, Norway, Mexico, Costa Rica, as well as in Canada and the United States.

Research & Scholarly Activity

Dr. Ricento’s research has focused on language policies, particularly as they relate to speakers of minority languages in North America. He has conducted research on LINC programs in Calgary, looking at the ways in which curricula and the philosophy of instructors reflect assumed ideologies about Canadian identity and citizenship. Another recent project focused on government sponsored refugees and their experiences over a one year period as they struggled with succeeding, linguistically and culturally, in the current political-economic situation. A current project focuses on the academic achievement of two groups of Chinese language background students in Edmonton: those in monolingual English programs and those in Mandarin-English bilingual programs. Other research has looked at the various roles English plays, globally, in employment patterns in the formal economy; this work bridges the gaps between language policy, economics, and political theory, leading to a new paradigm in research in language policy.

Current Projects:

  • A Comparison of the Academic English Achievement of Chinese-language background students in Mandarin-English bilingual and English-only programs. Funding from the Confucius Institute in Edmonton, and EAL Chair


University of California, Los Angeles, U.S.A.

University of Southern California, U.S.A.

Gettysburg College, U.S.A.

Professional & Community Affiliations

Dr. Ricento has worked with various community and professional organizations in his role as an expert in language policy and the education of English language learners. He has been a member of the American Association for Applied Linguistics for more than 20 years, serving in various leadership capacities, including on the Executive Committee. He has been a plenary speaker at the ATESOL conference (Calgary), the Alliance Francaise (Calgary), the Language Research Centre (U of C), and he has also given numerous workshops on research methodology at the U of C and at universities in other countries. He has been a plenary speaker at the University of Montreal, the University of Toronto, and the University of Calgary, as well as in many other countries. He has evaluated research proposals for agencies in South Africa, Croatia, Canada, and the U.S. He worked closely with the Margaret Chisolm Resettlement Centre, Calgary, on his two-year long project ‘Linguistic and Cultural Barriers to Refugees’ Access to Social and Medical Services in Calgary’ (2009-2011).


Johnson, D.C. & Ricento,T. (in press). Conceptual and theoretical perspectives in language planning and policy: Situating the ethnography of language policy. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 219.

Ricento, T. (in press). Measuring success when English isn’t your native language: Perspectives from Canada. In P. Siemund, I. Gogolin, M. Schulz & J. Davydova (Eds.), Multilingualism and Language Contact in Urban Areas: Acquisition—Identities— Space—Education. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Ricento, T. (2013). Language policy, ideology, and attitudes in English-dominant countries. In R. Bayley, R. Cameron, & C. Lucas (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Sociolinguistics (pp. 525-544). New York: Oxford University Press.

Ricento, T. (2012). Political economy and English as a “Global” language. Critical Multilingualism Studies, 1, 1-27.

Cervatiuc, A., & Ricento, T. (2012). Curriculum meta-orientations in the language instruction for newcomers to Canada program. The Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education, 24, 17-31.


  • Council of Editors of Learned Journals (CELJ), Award for Best New Journal (runner-up), Journal of Language, Identity, and Education, 2002. Ricento is founding co-editor of the journal.
  • Russell Sage Foundation, President’s Research Award, 2006-2007
  • Nominated for President’s Distinguished Award in Research, University of Texas, 2005, 2006

Media Work

  • Finding the Words’: CBC Radio: Live Radio Interview with CBC Calgary radio on the ‘Linguistic Diversity and Language Policy’ conference, organized by Tom Ricento. The topic of the April 30, 2012 conference was ‘Aboriginal Languages in Canada’.
  • A live television interview with Omni Mandarin News, Sept. 7th, 2012 about the conference Ricento organized at the University of Calgary: ‘Multidisciplinary Approaches in Language Policy and Planning’, Sept. 6-8, 2012. The interview was broadcast Sept. 7th, 2012.
  • Language Policy, Political Theory, and English as a ‘Global’ Language’; an invited talk given at an international symposium held at the University of Arizona, ‘Multilingual, 2.0?’.
Photograph of Thomas Ricento

Curriculum Vitae

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