Assessing HLLs: The Why

Why is assessment important for heritage language learners?

Assessment is an important component of effective classroom practices. It helps teachers make informed decisions about curriculum and instruction, and it guides them in understanding and supporting students’ individual learning goals and progress. It also serves as a tool for advocacy. Understanding how and why assessment can be useful for HLLs is especially important, as the needs of these students are often misunderstood or neglected due to the diversity of their language backgrounds and proficiencies. It can be difficult to find appropriate or relevant materials, especially if educators have limited opportunities for professional development or school administrators don’t recognize the unique needs of this population.

Despite the increase in research surrounding HLLs over the past few decades, there are few heritage-specific courses and programs. Heritage learners may be enrolled in world language courses, dual language programs, or in courses specifically designed for heritage students. Across these different contexts, assessment tools and practices can help educators better understand and meet student needs.

Heritage-specific assessment practices can:

  1. Improve instruction and student outcomes
  2. Support teachers in advocating for their students
  3. Provide concrete evidence for administrators about program needs and effectiveness