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ERIC Number: EJ853183
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004
Pages: 25
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 42
ISSN: ISSN-1550-7076
Seeking Explanatory Adequacy: A Dual Approach to Understanding the Term "Heritage Language Learner"
Carreira, Maria
Heritage Language Journal, v2 n1 Fall 2004
What is a heritage language learner (HLL)? We argue that a pedagogically valuable answer to this question must do more than describe all individuals who ought be considered HLLs; it should also offer a roadmap for meeting the needs of HLLs with regard to language learning. To achieve this goal, which we refer to as achieving "explanatory adequacy", the answer to the above question must 1) differentiate HLLs from second-language learners (SLLs); 2) differentiate HLLs from first-language learners (L1Ls); and 3) differentiate between different types of HLLs. In reference to the first task, we propose that HLLs are students whose identity and/or linguistic needs differ from those of second language learners by virtue of having a family background in the heritage language (HL) or culture (HC). In reference to the second task, we argue that unlike L1Ls, HLLs do not receive sufficient exposure to their language and culture to fulfill basic identity and linguistic needs. Consequently, they pursue language learning to fulfill these needs. Finally, with regard to the third task, we map out four categories of HLLs, each with different identity and linguistic needs. Along the way, we advocate for endowing all language courses where HLLs are enrolled with a focus on identity and language issues, as these relate to family background. (Contains 1 table, 2 figures and 8 endnotes.)
National Heritage Language Resource Center and UC Consortium for Language Learning & Teaching. 1333 Rolfe Hall, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1411. Tel: 310-825-1138; Fax: 310-206-5183; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A