The Institute conducts research on language, literacy, and bilingualism and their development and acquisition in urban societies. The central mission of RISLUS is to investigate those research questions that are at the nexus of language and the urban environment, especially in New York City. Basic and applied research is conducted:

• on structural questions, approached from a variety of theoretical viewpoints, associated with the language of urban dwellers, especially but not limited to those who are bilingual or bidialectal;
• on social, and educational issues associated with the language of urban dwellers, with special emphasis on bilingual and bidialectal communities and their language-related strengths and needs;
• on the language and language-learning profile of students at the elementary, secondary and college levels, especially at CUNY and in the NYC public schools, and on the progress of these students in the acquisition of English as well as in the strengthening and development of their native languages and other modern languages;
• on the acquisition of academic literacy skills in English by all students, but especially by students whose native base is another language or another variety of English;
• on the acquisition of academic literacy skills in the home languages of emergent bilinguals, leading to full bilingualism built on knowledge and skill in both the home language and English;
• on ways to make language instruction at the NYC public schools and at CUNY, in both ESL and modern languages, a model for public schools and universities throughout the country.

365 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10016

Ricardo Otheguy, Director

Gita Martohardjono, Associate Director

Elizabeth Pratt, Assistant to the Directors

RISLUS is located in the Linguistics Program at The Graduate Center, The City University of New York. Established in 1961, The Graduate Center is the doctorate-granting institution of The City University of New York (CUNY). An internationally-recognized center for advanced studies and a national model for public doctoral education, The Graduate Center offers more than thirty doctoral programs in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and the natural sciences, as well as a number of master’s programs. Many of its faculty members are among the world’s leading scholars in their respective fields. Ten of The Graduate Centers doctoral programs place among the top ten in the country, six are ranked in the top five, and in the broad category of humanities, The Graduate Center is rated fourth, according to a new method of assessing the relative strength of doctoral programs by scholarly productivity. The school currently enrolls over 4000 students from throughout the United States, as well as from about eighty foreign countries, and its alumni hold major positions in industry and government, as well as in academia. The Graduate Center is also home to twenty-eight interdisciplinary research centers and institutes focused on areas of compelling social, civic, cultural, and scientific concerns. Located in a landmark Fifth Avenue building, The Graduate Center has become a vital part of New York City’s intellectual and cultural life with its extensive array of public lectures, exhibitions, concerts, and theatrical events. Further information on The Graduate Center and its programs can be found at