Community and Heritage Languages

Over twenty percent of people in the U.S. speak a language other than English at home. These heritage language speakers often do not fit the traditional categories of “native speaker,” or “second language” or “foreign language” speaker. Most of these people do not receive formal education in their home language. Their first language use remains confined to the home or immediate community. As they get older, their competence in their home language usually suffers attrition.

In the last two decades, heritage languages have become an important and growing subject for research, curriculum development, and instruction. Communities who became interested in revitalizing their languages and started non-formal schools have propelled some of this interest. Given the dearth of foreign language skills in the U.S.A., government agencies have also shown support for the development of heritage languages. Whether for reasons of cultural identification, or national priorities like security and trade, the untapped linguistic resources in these communities are finally starting to be appreciated and utilized.

Resources, News, and Events

CAL Authors Research on Less Commonly Taught Languages & Needs for K-12 Instructors
CAL Tapped to Develop Career-Focused Resources for STARTALK Initiative
In Memoriam: Olga Kagan
Handbook of Heritage, Community, and Native American Languages in the United States: Research, Policy, and Educational Practice
Handbook of Heritage, Community, and Native American Languages in the United States: Research, Policy, and Educational Practice

Edited by Terrence G. Wiley, Joy Kreeft Peyton, Donna Christian, Sarah Catherine K. Moore, Na Liu

Published by Routledge and the Center for Applied Linguistics

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Related Projects

English for Heritage Language Speakers (EHLS)
English for Heritage Language Speakers (EHLS)

Funder: U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Language and National Security Education Office, National Security Education Program

Career Pathways for Heritage Language Learners: Developing Vision & Building Capacity
Career Pathways for Heritage Language Learners: Developing Vision & Building Capacity

Funder: Over the next few years, STARTALK, a federal critical-need language learning initiative, is piloting an expansion of its traditional summer-only instructional model to a program that focuses on year-round outreach, with ... Read more

Alliance for the Advancement of Heritage Languages
Alliance for the Advancement of Heritage Languages

Funder: Center for Applied Linguistics

STARTALK
STARTALK

Funder: U.S. Department of Defense, via subcontract from the University of Maryland, National Foreign Language Center

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The Center for Applied Linguistics is a nonprofit organization promoting access, equity, and mutual understanding for linguistically and culturally diverse people around the world.