Teaching Heritage Speakers: Best practices Maria M. Carreira California State University, Long Beach
The secret Keep your eye on the learner
Warm up activity WHAT (WHO) IS A HERITAGE LANGUAGE LEARNER?
The secret: Keep your eye on the learner Part I: Know the learner Part II: Respond to his/her needs Part III (pm): Applying the concepts
Part I KNOW THE LEARNER
Traditionally, language teaching has been “what centered” “What centered” = “curriculum centered” Teachers start at the front of the curriculum
What happens when you apply a curriculum-centered approach to HL teaching?
The “who-centered” view “Who-centered” = “learner centered”
Why is the learner-centered view better? • HL learners differ from each other with regard to - linguistic abilities (in the HL and in English) - literacy skills - affective needs - goals for their HL • HL learners also differ from L2 learners
Exploring the “WHO” What does the “learner-centered” view teach us?
Exploring the “who” • Definitions; • Research on the “typical” HL learner; • Research on HL learner variation
Definitions:Who is a heritage language learner? • Narrow definitions – based on proficiency • Broad definitions – based on affiliation
Example of a narrow definition “An individual who is raised in a home where a non-English language is spoken, who speaks or merely understands the heritage language, and who is to some degree bilingual in English and the heritage language” (Valdés, 2001, p. 38)
Example of a broad definition Heritage language learners are individuals who “…have familial or ancestral ties to a particular language and who exert their agency in determining whether or not they are HLLs (heritage language learners) of that HL (heritage language) and HC (heritage culture) (Hornberger and Wang, 2008, p. 27)
In high school I was one of very few Latinos. My friend and I were called the "Mexican kids". This was always funny to me because my Dad's family always told me I was American. In school I was labeled Mexican, but to the Mexicans, I am an American. I am part of each, but not fully accepted by either. In high school, I was considered Mexican because I spoke Spanish but I was considered "Pocho" by my Dad's family because my Spanish was not up to their standard. It's this weird duality in which you are stuck in the middle. Latinos are often told that they are not Americans but also that they are not connected to their heritage. You take pride in both cultures and learn to deal with the rejection. You may never be fully embraced by either side. That's why you seek out other people like yourself. Socializing with people who share a common experience helps you deal with this experience.
Broad + narrow definitions = two orientations to HL teaching Linguistic needs (narrow definition) Affective needs (broad definition)
Filling in details • Definitions • Research on the “typical” HL learner • Research on HL learner variation
Factors in heritage language development • Age of acquisition of English (ages 4, 8) • Order of acquisition of the languages (HL first, followed by Eng., both lags. at the same time); • Language use at home (only the HL, HL + Eng., English only); • Schooling in the HL; • General exposure to the HL e.g. time spent abroad, media use, demographic density of local HL speakers;
Typical HL learner (from NHLRC Survey) • Used their HL exclusively until age 5, when they started school (+) • Has visited their country of origin once or twice; (+) • Listens to music, watches soap operas, and attends religious services in their HL (not much reading) (mostly +); • Little to no schooling in the HL (-); • US born (?)
Linguistic strengths and needs • Some facility in informal/spoken language • Low literacy (limited command of embedding – compound sentences, little to no command of the academic registers) • Grammar areas in need of attention: those learned after age 5 – Aspect, the subjunctive, perfect verb forms (Montrul, 2008, 2011);
Curricular emphasis • Language features acquired after age 5; e.g. Aspect, mood, subordination • Linguistic skills acquired through schooling (expansion of bilingual range, literacy, vocabulary and grammar);
Typical learner profile (cont.) • Has positive associations with his HL, but also some insecurities; • Is a “hyphenated American” (e.g. Arab-American) • Wants to learn more about his roots; • Wants to connect with other members of his/her community; • Enjoys using his/her HL to help others; • Would like to take professional advantage of his/her HL skills (only Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese speakers)
Social/affective orientation of the curriculum • Responds to HL learners’ affective needs– i.e. the need to explore issues of identity, builds on learners’ positive associations, combats negative associations; • Responds to HL learners’ social needs – i.e. the desire to connect with other US speakers; • Responds to HL learners’ professional goals (not all languages);
Exploring the “how” • Definitions: Two orientations (identity + language) • Research on the “typical” HL learner: Details on identity and socio-affective issues, and linguistic needs) • Research on HL learner variation
Research on HL Learner variation Variation in the class
Variation in the classroom contextThe NHLRC Survey One-track program: L2 and HL learners together (L2-HL classes) Dual-track program: Separate classes for L2 and and HL learners (HL classes) Type 1: Only one HL course (most common); Type 2: Two levels of HL instruction;
L2-HL class: Japanese 300 (Third year college course) • 16 students (12 HL learners + 4 L2 learners) • HL learners: All have intermediate-to-advanced aural skills 8 had three or more years of schooling; 4 had one to two years of schooling; • L2 learners: All had taken four semesters of Japanese
Variation in Japanese 100 • Between HL learners • Between HL and L2 learners
HL Class: Arabic 100 for HL learners Arabic: Diglossia • Modern Standard Arabic (High prestige, formal situations, written, known by educated speakers, lingua franca among Arabs from different countries); • Colloquial Arabic (Low prestige, home language, informal communications, not commonly written, mutually unintelligible regional dialects) (Maamouri 1998) Arabic 100: • 11 students from six Arab countries (Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Egypt) and 1 student from Indonesia (Muslim). • 2 have four or more years of education abroad, 3 have three years of religious education in Arabic in the US; the rest have no literacy skills in Arabic;
Variation in Arabic 100 • Between HL learners • Dialectal • Diglossic • Literacy
HL Class: Hindi 100 for HL learners India: Hindi is the official language of the country. Individual states have their own official languages. 29 languages have over 1 million speakers. India’s languages stem primarily from two language families: Indo-Aryan in the north, and Dravidian in the south. Many languages have their own writing systems (Brass 2005, Hasnain 2003). Gambhir (2008) identifies two primary categories of HL learners in Hindi classes – ancestral, associate (cognate and non-cognate) Hindi 100: 16 students from five different language backgrounds; Hindi/Urdu (7); Gujarati (4); Punjabi (2);Telugu (2); Marathi (1)
Variation in Hindi 100 • Dialectal • Cross linguistic • Between learners (HL and L2)
HL classes v. L2-HL classes • Which scenario seems more challenging? • How does this problem arise?
In the Arabic and Hindi programs “HL classes” are seen as a “catch all” destination for all students that do not meet the traditional profile of L2 learners. • Arabic and Hindi 100 do not make linguistic sense.
What does the study of learner variation tell us? All classes enrolling HL learners are heterogeneous (they have students with different skills, goals, backgrounds… in the HL). Question: How do you deal with learner variation?