Community & Heritage Languages
Over twenty percent of people in the U.S. speak a language other than English at home. These heritage language speakers often do not fit the traditional categories of “native speaker,” or “second language” or “foreign language” speaker. Most of these people do not receive formal education in their home language. Their first language use remains confined to the home or immediate community. As they get older, their competence in their home language usually suffers attrition.
In the last two decades, heritage languages have become an important and growing subject for research, curriculum development, and instruction. Communities who became interested in revitalizing their languages and started non-formal schools have propelled some of this interest. Given the dearth of foreign language skills in the U.S.A., government agencies have also shown support for the development of heritage languages. Whether for reasons of cultural identification, or national priorities like security and trade, the untapped linguistic resources in these communities are finally starting to be appreciated and utilized.
STARTALK was created in 2006 to provide learning opportunities in the critical languages for students (K-16) and professional development for teachers of the critical languages, mainly through programs offered during the summer.
The Center for Applied Linguistics supports the Linguistic Society of America and its Committee on Endangered Languages and their Preservation (CELP) to raise awareness within Congress about the importance of Native American Language Revitalization.
Handbook of Heritage, Community, and Native American Languages in the United States: Research, Policy, and Educational Practice
This timely and comprehensive publication provides a state-of-the-art overview of major issues related to heritage, community, and Native American languages in the United States, providing a foundational perspective on how these languages are learned and used in a variety of contexts and outlining the importance of drawing on these languages as valuable national resources.
News & Events
STARTALK has awarded the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) with a multi-year grant to create publicly accessible web-based resources that highlight U.S. federal government career pathways for heritage language learners in high school through college.
CAL is saddened by the passing of our valued colleague and friend, Dr. Olga Kagan, one of the country's leading specialists on second language acquisition and heritage language teaching.