Heritage Learners and National Language Needs

This two-day symposium provides practical information, theoretical considerations, and program/curriculum models for language education that utilizes existing heritage language resources. Service organizations, government agencies, and businesses in the US are increasingly calling for personnel with specialized bilingual abilities. Language specialists are under pressure to develop programs that provide individuals with the language and literacy skills needed for use across a broad range of occupations. To meet these needs, there has been expanding interest among language scholars in capitalizing on the linguistic resources of language minority students through developing their heritage language skills. Not only does this language as resource approach (Ruiz 1988) have great potential for meeting foreign language demands, it can also provide educational and professional opportunities for language minorities who might not otherwise experience school success. In addition, the language as resource approach promotes foreign language development among monolingual speakers of English through programs in which heritage language speakers can serve as conversation partners and tutors. Although many foreign language scholars can see the value in utilizing heritage language resources, they may not be familiar with information and models that can guide program/curriculum development for multiple languages and diverse spoken and literacy needs. This symposium will offer a range of language, culture, literacy, and technology workshops by experts who have extensive knowledge and experience in developing innovative K-16 heritage language programs.