The Heritage Language Initiative (HLI) in the Department of World Languages and Literatures at Portland State University seeks to address the needs of speakers of languages other than English in the university and in the community. It also works to build on the strengths that come from bilingualism.
To accomplish these goals, the HLI meets weekly and works to:
- Plan and advertise heritage language courses, currently Heritage Spanish and Heritage Vietnamese.
- Provide training and ongoing support for instructors.
- Cooperate with ethnic communities in the city.
- Participate in academic conferences.
- Conduct research on heritage language speakers.
Our courses are specifically designed for heritage language speakers, defined as those who have been raised in a home where a non-English language is spoken, who speak or merely understand the heritage language, and who are to some degree bilingual in English and the heritage language. The reasons for this are that the standard foreign language classroom does not fit them, their identity is connected to their heritage language, and they can become proficient in their heritage language more quickly than others.
Current research efforts include a campus wide survey of languages spoken on the Portland State University campus and a study of indigenous languages spoken by Mexican immigrants in the Portland area.
To learn more, visit the Heritage Language Initiative’s website.