Professional Biography

Dr. Hornberger is internationally known for her work in bilingualism and biliteracy, ethnography and language policy, and Indigenous language revitalization. She researches, lectures, teaches, and consults regularly on multilingual education policy and practice in the United States and the Andes (Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador) and has also worked in Brazil, China, Mexico, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden and other parts of the world. Dr. Hornberger received her Ph.D. in educational policy studies in 1985 and joined the faculty at Penn's Graduate School of Education the same year, later also joining Penn’s Anthropology Graduate Group. She served as acting and interim dean of Penn GSE from 1993–1995, held the Goldie Anna chair from 1993–1998, and directed/chaired Educational Linguistics for more than 20 years. From 2000–2015, she served as convener of Penn GSE's annual international Ethnography in Education Research Forum, now in its fourth decade.

After graduating with her master’s degree from New York University, Dr. Hornberger lived and worked in Quechua-speaking areas of the Andes for over a decade, where she later also carried out her doctoral dissertation research on bilingual education and Indigenous language revitalization. Dr. Hornberger is a former editor of the international journal Anthropology and Education Quarterly and of the ten-volume Encyclopedia of Language and Education, 2nd edition (Springer, 2008). Since 1995, she has served as co-editor of the ongoing international book series on Bilingual Education and Bilingualism (Multilingual Matters), which recently surpassed 100 published books.  She serves on the editorial boards of numerous other book series and scholarly journals. She is a three-time recipient of the Fulbright Senior Specialist Award, which took her to Paraguay (2001), New Zealand (2002), and South Africa (2008). Other awards and recognitions include the Distinguished Scholarship and Service Award from the American Association for Applied Linguistics (2008), the University of Pennsylvania Provost’s Award for Distinguished Ph.D. Teaching and Mentoring (2008), Fellow of the American Educational Research Association (2010), and the George and Louise Spindler Award for Distinguished, Exemplary, and Inspirational Contribution to Educational Anthropology (2014).

Research Interests and Current Projects

Dr. Hornberger investigates language and education in culturally and linguistically diverse settings, combining methods and perspectives from educational anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and sociolinguistics. She gives special attention to educational policy and practice for Indigenous and immigrant language groups, compared across national contexts.

Currently, Dr. Hornberger is working on Multilingual Language Policy and Classroom Practice: Comparative Perspectives on Indigenous Language Revitalization, a series of case studies based on ethnographic research in Bolivia and short-term ethnographic monitoring consultancies and classroom observations in Brazil, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, and elsewhere. Additional long-term research projects include Literacy in Two Languages, an ethnographic school/community study in the Puerto Rican and Cambodian communities of Philadelphia, carried out with participation of Penn GSE students, and Quechua Language and Literacy in the Urban Andean Highlands, an ethnography of communication in urban contexts of the Andes. 


Ph.D. (Educational Policy Studies; minor in Linguistics) University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1985

M.A. (Education, specializing in Bilingual Education) New York University, 1973

B.A. (Hispanic-American History and Literature) Harvard University, 1972

Areas of Expertise

Educational linguistics and sociolinguistics

Educational ethnography and anthropology

Bilingualism and biliteracy

Multilingualism and language education policy

Indigenous education and language revitalization

Featured Books

Honoring Richard Ruiz and his Work on Language Planning and Bilingual Education

Continua of Biliteracy: An Ecological Framework for Educational Policy, Research and Practice in Multilingual Settings

Sociolinguistics and Language Education

Can Schools Save Indigenous Languages?: Policy and Practice on Four Continents

Read more about Indigenous Literacies in the Americas

Selected Publications

Hornberger, N. H. (2017). Joshua A. Fishman: a scholar of unfathomable influence. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 243, 17-28.

De Korne, H. & Hornberger, N. H. (2017). Countering unequal multilingualism through ethnographic monitoring. In M. Martin-Jones & D. Martin (Eds.), Researching Multilingualism: Critical and Ethnographic Approaches (pp. 247-258). New York/London: Routledge.

Gallo, S. & Hornberger, N. H. (2017). Immigration policy as family language policy: Mexican immigrant children and families in search of biliteracy. International Journal of Bilingualism, 1-14. 

Hornberger, N. H. (2016). Researching the continua of biliteracy. In K. King, Y. Lai, & S. A. May (Eds.), Research Methods in Language and Education, Vol. 10, Encyclopedia of Language and Education, 3rd ed. (pp. 1-18). Springer International Publishing. 

Hornberger, N. H. (2016) Language and voice. Bilingual Research Journal, 39(3-4), 355-356.

Hult, F. & Hornberger, N. H. (2016). Revisiting orientations in language planning: problem, right, and resource as an analytical heuristic. Bilingual Review/Revista Bilingüe, 33(3), 30-49. 

Hornberger, N. H., & Outakoski, H. (2015). Sámi time, space, and place: Exploring teachers' metapragmatic statements on Sámi language use, teaching, and revitalization in Sápmi. Confero: Essays on Education, Philosophy and Politics, 3(1), 1–46.

Hornberger, N. H. (2014). “Until I became a professional, I was not, consciously, Indigenous”: One intercultural bilingual educator’s trajectory in Indigenous language revitalization. Journal of Language, Identity, and Education, 13(4), 283–299.

Hornberger, N. H. (2014). On not taking language inequality for granted: Hymesian traces in ethnographic monitoring of South Africa’s multilingual language policy. Multilingua, 33(5/6), 625–647.

Hornberger, N. H. (2013). Negotiating methodological rich points in the ethnography of language policy. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 219, 101–122.

Hornberger, N. H. (Ed.) (2012). Educational linguistics: Critical concepts in linguistics (Vols. 1–6). London, England and New York, NY: Routledge.

Hornberger, N. H. (2011). Dell H. Hymes: His scholarship and legacy in anthropology and education. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 42(4), 310–318. 

Hornberger, N. H. (2009). Multilingual education policy and practice: Ten certainties (grounded in Indigenous experience). Language Teaching, 42(2), 197–211.

Hornberger, N. H. (2009). Hymes's linguistics and ethnography in education. Text & Talk: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse & Communication Studies, 29(3), 347–358.

Hornberger, N. H. (2009). La educación multilingüe, política y práctica: Diez certezas. Revista Guatemalteca de Educación, 1(1), 1–44.

Hornberger, N. H. (Ed.). (2008). Can schools save Indigenous languages? Policy and practice on four continents. Hampshire, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Hornberger, N. H., & Vaish, V. (2008). Multilingual language policy and school linguistic practice: Globalization and English-language teaching in India, Singapore, and South Africa. Journal of Comparative Education, 39(3), 305–320.

King, K. A., & Hornberger, N. H. (2006). Quechua as a lingua franca. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 26, 177–194.

Hornberger, N. H. (2006). Voice and biliteracy in indigenous language revitalization: Contentious educational practices in Quechua, Guarani, and Maori contextsJournal of Language, Identity, and Education, 5(4), 277–292.

Hornberger, N. H. (2005). Opening and filling up implementational and ideological spaces in heritage language education. Modern Language Journal, 89, 605–612.

Hornberger, N. H. (1996). Indigenous literacies in the Americas: Language planning from the bottom up. In N. H. Hornberger (Ed.), Contributions to the sociology of language. Berlin, Germany: Mouton de Gruyter.

McKay, S. L., & Hornberger, N. H. (1996). Sociolinguistics and language teaching. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.