Frequently Asked Questions

Diverse group of children

The Alliance is compiling a list of Frequently Asked Questions about heritage languages. Browse our current questions and contribute to future answers.

Research and Resources


Digests are short reports that highlight current topics of interest covering a wide variety of subjects related to language learning, cultural orientation, and linguistics.
Browse the complete collection online.

Digests related to heritage languages are listed below. You can click on the selected titles to go directly to a particular digest.

Attaining High Levels of Proficiency: Challenges for Foreign Language Education in the United States.
Margaret E. Malone, Center for Applied Linguistics, Benjamin Rifkin, Temple University,
Donna Christian and Dora E. Johnson, Center for Applied Linguistics, 2005.

Chinese Heritage Community Language Schools in the United States
Theresa Hsu Chao, Founder, National Council of Associations of Chinese Language Schools, June 1997

Curricular Models for University African Language Programs
David Dwyer, Michigan State University, December 2003

Heritage Spanish Speakers' Language Learning Strategies
Zennia Hancock, University of Maryland, College Park, October 2002

Involuntary Language Loss among Immigrants: Asian-American Linguistic Autobiographies
Leanne Hinton, University of California, Berkeley, December 1999

La crianza de niños bilingües: preocupaciones comunes de los padres y las investigaciones actuales
Kendall King and Lyn Fogle, Georgetown University, February 2009

Selecting Materials to Teach Spanish to Spanish Speakers
Paula Winke, Center for Applied Linguistics, and Cathy Stafford, Georgetown University, May 2002

Spanish for Native Speakers: Developing Dual Language Proficiency
Joy Kreeft Peyton, Vickie W. Lewelling, & Paula Winke, ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics, December 2001

Spanish for U.S. Hispanic Bilinguals in Higher Education
Ana Roca, ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics, November 1992

Tapping a National Resource: Heritage Languages in the United States
Richard D. Brecht and Catherine W. Ingold, National Foreign Language Center, Washington, DC, May 2002

Video Resources on Heritage Languages

España y sus Accentos
This free online documentary, produced by Juan Carlos Gallego at California State University, Fullerton, discusses dialectal varieties of Spanish in Spain and speakers' attitudes toward accent. Length: 45 minutes.
Learn more.

Language is the Key: An Evidence-Based Early Literacy Program
Developed by Washington Learning Systems, Language is the Key is an evidence-based program that uses a “dialogic reading” approach and shows parents and teachers how to encourage young children to build the foundations for literacy. The programs include two videos: 1) “Talking and Books” and 2) “Talking and Play,” which are available in Spanish, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Korean, and Filipino.
Learn more.

Speak YOUR Languages
Highline Public Schools in Seattle has developed a program for students and a set of videos designed to motivate students, especially heritage language speakers, to maintain and develop their skills in languages other than English.

The series is called Speak YOUR Languages, and the videos profile bilingual professionals whose language ability led them to exciting careers.
Learn more.

Bambi Speaks Arapaho
Disney's classic "Bambi" has been released in the Arapaho language to help
preserve a fading Arapaho language and culture. The Wyoming Council for the
Humanities, a non-profit, state-based educational program of the National
Endowment for the Humanities, has a limited number of videotapes of "Bambi"
in Arapaho--the first feature length children's animated movie ever dubbed
into a Native American language available for linguists, anthropologists,
educators, and other interested persons.
Learn more.

"I Speak Arabic." A documentary film by Diana Scalera
This is a film about the relationship that Arab Americans have with their language. These immigrants share the same challenges that all immigrant families face—how to balance the new with the old and come out whole.
The film presents the experiences of young Arab Americans between the ages of 15 and 25, their parents and teachers. It is a dialogue about what helps and what discourages immigrant children from being successful and proficient in their heritage language.
Learn more.

We Speak America
A heartwarming and honest exploration into the complexities of identity, immigration, culture, and language issues faced by parents, young adults, teachers and students. We Speak America provides a fresh and intergenerational perspective making it a perfect tool for language and cultural programs. We Speak America features parents and teachers speaking about the crucial need for children to be bilingual and the importance of a connection to their heritage. Young adults reflect on growing up as immigrants and the children of immigrants in the midst of multiple cultures and sometimes difficult journey in embracing their own culture and language. Through personal stories and anecdotes, We Speak America captures the significance of culture and language in the lives of youth, and has been designed as the cornerstone for school and community dialogue.
Learn more.