The art of saving a language : heritage language learning in America
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The term heritage language (HL), which only emerged in the context of language policy during the 1990’s, refers to immigrant, refugee, and indigenous languages whose target group of learners have either previously learned the language as a first language (L1) or home language, or have some form of heritage connection to the language (Cummins, 2005). The bilingual nature of these individuals is ambiguous, as variables related to literacy and oral proficiency in the first language are significantly influenced by geographical, cultural, academic, and sociolinguistic factors prevalent to the context in which the speaker is situated. The topic of HL is the subject of a growing number of studies in second language acquisition as well as bilingual education. Given that an increasing number of immigrants from around the world continue to make the United States their place of permanent residence, the country’s educational focus needs to take into account the needs of heritage language learners (HLL), especially as that focus shifts from the exclusive teaching of foreign languages to incorporating the maintenance and linguistic competence of our multilingual inhabitants.
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