Assessment of Heritage Language Learners

Issues and Directions

Authored by: Margaret E. Malone , Joy Kreeft Peyton , Katie Kim

Handbook of Heritage, Community, and Native American Languages in the United States

Print publication date:  January  2014
Online publication date:  January  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415520669
eBook ISBN: 9780203122419
Adobe ISBN: 9781136332494


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During the past two decades, educators in the United States have become interested in identifying the diverse population known as heritage language learners (HLLs) and assessing language proficiencies within this heterogeneous group (e.g., Fishman, 2001, Chapter 4, this volume; Wiley, 2001, Chapter 2). This chapter identifies major issues involved in assessment of HLLs’ proficiency in their heritage language. In light of the growing number of HLLs and programs that serve them (Brecht & Ingold, 2002; Compton, 2001), the issues involved in identifying, developing, and using language proficiency assessments appropriate for HLLs have become critical. Despite the increasing importance of this topic, however, only limited research has been conducted to define the characteristics of HLLs and their varying language proficiency profiles, and there is a dearth of valid and reliable tests for measuring this proficiency. Therefore, this chapter examines current issues identified in the literature related to HLL assessment and recommends directions for future research.

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