Research on Heritage Language Issues

Authored by: Nelleke Van Deusen-Scholl

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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In order to outline the major research trends on heritage language issues, it is helpful to trace the genesis of the field of heritage language policy, education, and research in North America. Fishman’s work on language maintenance and shift in the 1960s (cf. Fishman, 1964) has been widely viewed as providing the theoretical underpinnings for the heritage language field (cf. He, 2008). Although the label heritage itself is a relatively recent term (cf. Wiley, 2005), Fishman (2001) sketches the history of more than 300 years of community language education in the United States, categorizing heritage languages as indigenous, colonial, and immigrant languages. As Cummins (2005) points out, the term heritage languages emerged in Canada in the late 1970s in the context of the Ontario Heritage Languages Programs (Cummins & Danesi, 1990). In the United States, the term was not used until the mid 1990s, with the publication in 1996 of the Standards for Foreign Language Learning (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, 1996: according to Valdés, 2005). The concept was clearly present in early work by Valdés and others on Spanish for native speakers in the late 1970s and early 1980s (e.g., Valdés & Teschner, 1977).

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