Thematic Session: Heritage, Community, and Native Languages in the United States: Examining the Current Status and Identifying Future Possibilities

3:45pm EDT
Presented at: ISB10

Since the publication of Fishman’s (1966) foundational study of Language Loyalty in the United States, nearly half a century ago, interest in the maintenance, development, and revitalization of heritage and community languages in the United States has grown despite decades of debate over the merits of bilingual education for language minority populations (Wiley, 2013). Although many language communities have long devoted energy to educating their children and finding ways to maintain rich linguistic and cultural traditions, institutional recognition of, and support for, the promotion of heritage and community languages has, for the most part, been lacking.

This panel will explore the current status and future possibilities for heritage and community language (HL/CL) education in the United States through four relevant and judicious topics: demographics; stakeholders; funding; and; assessment. Panelists will offer 15-minute presentations, with 10 minutes for questions at the end.

The panel will begin with a consideration of the current state of HL/CL education and explore, based on U.S. Census and language program surveys, the mismatch of demographic realities in terms of the diversity of languages spoken in communities in this country compared with where, and if, those languages are taught in schools.

The second presentation will discuss stakeholders’ perspectives on heritage/community language programs, including their current status, factors that have helped them run well, challenges, and suggestions for improvement.

The third paper will address the relationship between program models for language instruction, their funding streams, and broader associations between these and minority-majority language ideologies and policy.

The fourth presentation will examine the challenges which arise in the development and administration of assessments of heritage language speakers and suggest further direction for pursuit of related issues.

A discussant will tease out the relationship between the four presentations, as well as facilitate interaction between the audience and the panel during a question and answer session.