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ERIC Number: EJ937155
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 19
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1550-7076
Diversity in Definition: Integrating History and Student Attitudes in Understanding Heritage Learners of Spanish in New Mexico
Wilson, Damian Vergara; Martinez, Ricardo
Heritage Language Journal, v8 n2 p115-133 Sum 2011
Although the definition of heritage language learner (HLLs) has been widely explored, researchers tend to base their definitions on learner proficiency. While such a premise is a safe and conservative way to identify heritage students, it pays little mind to inclusivity. Indeed, it may place the university in the role of cultural gatekeeper, excluding on linguistic grounds learners who might otherwise identify with a given heritage language. This research looks at historical factors and students' linguistic attitudes to argue for a definition of HLLs based on cultural connection. First, the present study reviews the historical factors that account for the present linguistic situation. Second, an analysis of preliminary data reveals a connection between identity labels used by the beginning-level HLLs and attitudinal dimensions of maintenance. Using a methodology similar to Mejias, Anderson-Mejias, and Carlson (2003) and Mejias and Anderson (1988), the data show that this cohort of students uses a variety of identity labels and that these labels show significant correlations to diverse attitudinal conceptions of their heritage language. Keeping in mind previous research on HLL definitions, historical factors, and the attitudinal research, this paper proposes two definitions of HLLs, one for scholarly research and another for student recruitment. (Contains 4 tables and 6 notes.)
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 - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New Mexico