Understanding Heritage and Non-heritage Language Learners

focuses specifically on students enrolled in Arabic, Korean, and Russian post-secondary language courses. It creates a learning environment that captures in rich detail, the perspectives and experiences of both heritage and non-heritage learners when they learn in mixed language courses.

This project addresses  two significant professional development needs unique to teachers who teach both heritage and non-heritage language learners in post-secondary language classrooms. These needs are

  1. to understand the pedagogical challenges created by the presence of both heritage and non-heritage language students in their classrooms, and
  2. to use this understanding to create effectual learning communities in language classrooms containing both heritage and non-heritage language students.

The program is organized into five  conceptual strands. They capture LCTL students’:

  • descriptions of their backgrounds and prior experiences
  • perceptions of heritage/domestic definitions and distinctions
  • motivation for language study
  • perspectives on their strengths/weaknesses as language learners
  • descriptions of their plans for the future

In each strand, users hear what experiences motivate these students to pursue language study, how they define themselves and how they view differences and similarities amongst each other, how they describe their own strengths and weaknesses as language learners, and their plans for the future.

After working through the strands and exploring the different cases, an Explorations section provides tasks and activities that  instructors can implement to help them meet the challenges of teaching both heritage and non-heritage language learners in the same classroom.

developed by Karen E. Johnson and Joan Kelly Hall
The Pennsylvania State University

The development of this case study and its materials is based on work supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education (Title VI, P229A060003). Any opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Education.

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