Suggesting Some Strategies and
a Conceptual Framework
Heritage Language Program
University of Washington
Shuhan C. Wang, Ph.D.
Delaware Department of Education
January 30, 2006
Seattle, WA
Wang, HL Development, 0106
What Does it Take to Develop Speakers at
High Proficiency Levels?
High Proficiency Levels: individuals who can function
at the professional level in the target language
Hours of instruction needed for a native English
--Commonly Taught Languages: 720 hours
--Less Commonly Taught Languages: 1320 hours
(Omaggio-Hadley, 2001)
Malone, M. E.; Rifkin, B., Christian, D. & Johnson, D. E., 2005. Attaining High Levels of
Proficiency: Challenges for Foreign Language Education in the United States.
Wang, HL Development, 0106
Pathways to Proficiency
Start language learning early to build a strong
base for second, third, and fourth language
Provide intensive immersion experiences for
students at the postsecondary level, including
overseas study in a target-language culture
Build on the language background of heritage
language speakers
(Malone, et al., 2005, p. 2, 10/26/05)
Wang, HL Development, 0106
Who Are Heritage Language Learners?
--A National Debate
Sociolinguistic Perspective: (1) colonial languages;
(2) indigenous American Indian or Alaska Native
languages; and (3) immigrant languages brought by
recent influx of immigrants (Fishman (2001)
Linguistic Perspective: home language, may or may
not understand the heritage language, may be to some
degree bilingual (Valdés, 1999, also see 2001)
Ecological Perspective: Any of the above and those
who self-identify as heritage language learners of a
particular language (Hornberger & Wang, in press)—
e.g., multi-racial marriages; multi-national adopted
Wang, HL Development, 0106
The Big Question:
How Do We Help
Heritage Language Learners
Develop High Levels of Proficiency?
Wang, HL Development, 0106
Strategy 1:
Frame Heritage Language Issues in
the US
To engage in public discourse, we can’t simply
talk about HL without mentioning English, the
Dominant Language in the US (Crawford, 2003)
In reality, we are not “Reversing Language Shift”
(Fishman, 1991)
Rather, we are concerned with moving HL
proficiency forward along with English language
development—Biliteracy Development
(Hornberger & King, 1996)
Wang, HL Development, 0106
Strategy 2:
Rethink Heritage Language
in the Global Context
(Layering of Languages & Cultures)
Along with globalization, there comes
localization of language and culture
In the global context, one’s native language and
culture becomes one’s HL and HC, and so on—
Everyone has a heritage language & culture
While one is developing competencies in a
world-wide language of communication and
global culture, one’s own sense of heritage
becomes more salient and cherished
Wang, HL Development, 0106
Strategy 3:
Advocate the Notion of Biliteracy
Biliteracy refers to heritage learners’
competencies in the literacies of the
dominant society and their own heritage
community. Biliteracy is at the juncture
where bilingualism across modalities and
biculturalism meet, and this competence
can be used as learners’ human, cultural,
and social capital (Wang, 2004).
Wang, HL Development, 0106
Strategy 4:
Be Mindful of Two Big Ideas about
Heritage Language Learning
HL competence develops in a
language eco-system
Build and use biliteracy as a reservoir
of human, cultural, and social capitals
Wang, HL Development, 0106
Strategy 5:
Consider Critical Elements in
Heritage Language Development
Proposing A Conceptual Framework
of Heritage Language
Transmission and Development
Wang, HL Development, 0106
Biliteracy Resource Eco-System of Intergenerational Language and Culture Transmission
Language Environment:
Heritage and Dominant Discourses-in-Contact
Continua of Biliteracy
Biliteracy Resource Reservoir
Dominant Discourses
Heritage Discourses
Language Evolution:
Biliteracy in Development
Heritage Language Counter-Endangerment:
Biliteracy in Use
Human Capital
Cultural Capital
Social Capital
Wang, HL Development, 0106
Language Environment:
Discourses-in-Contact (Wang, 2004)
An expansion of the notion of Languages
in contact
Discourses (Paul Gee, 1996): Discourses
with a capital D, which encompasses the
language, culture, and the use of these
systems in a group/society
Discourses shift: expanding from language
Wang, HL Development, 0106
Situated and performed (Erickson & Schultz,
Identity Kits (Gee 1996): multiplicity and shifting
perform chosen identities at different times
in different places with different people
Heritage Discourses and Dominant Discourses
Identities (Wang, 2004)
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Sociolinguistic Deconstruction of
a Native Speaker
Expertise in a language; e.g., in heritage
or dominant language, or both or none
--Inheritance toward the heritage group
--Affiliation to the dominant group
Rampton, 1995
Wang, HL Development, 0106
Language Environment:
Heritage and Dominant Discourses-in-Contact
Identity Kit
Wang, HL Development, 0106
Language Evolution:
Biliteracy in Development
Heritage Discourses and Dominant Discourses
exist in the language environment
Individuals must internalize these Discourses in
order to turn them into personal biliteracy
capital reservoir
How do we internalize the HD and DD?-Via the Continua of Biliteracy
Wang, HL Development, 0106
Build Biliteracy Capital Reservoir via
Continua of Biliteracy
(Hornberger, 1989; Hornberger & Skilton-Sylvester, 2000
Continua of Context (micro to macro,
oral to literate, & monolingual to bilingual)
Continua of Media (linguistic structures,
orthographic systems, & exposures to the
Continua of Content (minority to majority
perspectives, vernacular to literary use, &
contextualized to decontextualized texts)
Continua of Development (receptive to productive
skills, oral to writing, & L1 to L2)
Wang, HL Development, 0106
Heritage Language Counter-Endangerment:
Biliteracy in Use
Biliteracy capital exists in All
Levels from individuals to the
The more we use these capitals,
the more we possess them
Wang, HL Development, 0106
Three types of biliteracy capitals can be
deconstructed in language education
Human Capital (including linguistic capital)
Cultural Capital (including family’s and
ethnic group’s educational and cultural
Social Capital (how we use language &
culture to engage others in achieving our
social goals)
Wang, HL Development, 0106
Implications for Practice
How do we enable heritage language
learners to develop high levels of
proficiency in the heritage language?
A checklist for intergenerational language
and culture transmission
Wang, HL Development, 0106
Align the Curriculum and Practice with
the Five Goals of the National Foreign
Language Content Standards
Cultures (Products, Practices, and
Connections (to Subject Matters)
Comparisons (of Cultures and Languages)
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1. Anchoring in Contexts:
Make communities front and center
2. Tracking Language Development
3. Analyzing Language Exposure to the
Heritage and Dominant Discourses
4. Incorporating majority & minority content
and connecting language use to all
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5. Adopting Community-Based Pedagogy:
Linguistic biography studies: Make family language
trees; role play multigenerational/multilingual/multiethnic family reunion
Cultural biography studies: trace the cultural
backgrounds of the families or the group; delineate their
cultural heritage or important values or beliefs; interview
different generations of the family and write down their
Identity journaling: keep a log of one’s feelings and
ideas about self in different situations and figure out the
reasons why one feels in certain ways
Family photo-journalism: compile families’ pictures
from the homeland to the host society; make oral or
written histories about
Wang, HL Development, 0106
Community-Based Pedagogy (2)
Community funds of knowledge projects:
explore/document ways of making things, doing math,
cooking food, making home remedies, playing games,
making crafts and trades, celebrating or commemorating
important dates; to name some examples
Multiple literacies projects: make a video, film, digital
movie, or album involving multiple languages and
different modalities, images, sounds, and media
Multiple voices projects: tell/record/write stories from
the dominant and minority sources and perspectives
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Become Involved With
the Alliance for the Advancement of
Heritage Languages
Join the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL), the National Foreign
Language Center (NFLC), and other language educators and researchers
Visit the Web site:
Contact Joy Peyton (joy@cal.org)
Join the HL listserv: Write to Scott McGinnis, (sm167@umail.umd.edu)
Wang, HL Development, 0106
Conclusion (1)
All languages and cultures interact in a
ecological system
Everyone has a linguistic and cultural
heritage that needs to be nurtured in the
macro & micro environments
The development of the HL requires
attention to the continua of context,
content, media, and development
Wang, HL Development, 0106
Conclusion (2)
Biliteracy resource is capitals to be used in
the global context:
 Human
capital: enable us to advance
educationally and economically
 Cultural
capital: help us claim our
identities and rich cultural inheritance
 Social
capital: allow us to engage people
in achieving our social, economic and
political goals
Wang, HL Development, 0106
Thank you!
Wang, HL Development, 0106

Heritage Language Development