Two faculty members and several graduate students from the College of Education presented their research during the Second International Conference on Heritage Languages held March 7-8 at UCLA’s National Heritage Language Resource Center.
Theresa Austin, professor in the language, literacy and culture concentration in the department of teacher education and curriculum studies, reported that “This was the first time that heritage language issues in Massachusetts have been given prominence at such a large international forum.”
During a panel on “Heritage Language Learners - Sociocultural Issues in Maintaining and Developing Multilingualism and Multiculturalism,” studies representing three contexts of language and literacy development were presented. Lecturer Marie Polizzi’s study, “Raising a Daughter with French Heritage Language: Struggling with Deficit-Based Ideologies,” documented a bilingual French/English parent’s experiences with schools that valued multiculturalism but struggled with multilingual learners. She identified specific contradictory practices where instruction was expected to meet a child’s literacy and cognitive development needs, yet provoked unintended consequences. Her study provided suggestions to support multi-literacy practices.
On the same panel, language, literacy and culture doctoral students Simone Gugliotta and Yuko Takahashi presented their case studies. Gugliotta’s project, “Researching the Effects of Ludic Collaborative Learning in a Lusophone Heritage Language Community,” reported on a grassroots effort within the Portuguese heritage language learning community. Drawing on Vygotsky’s scaffolded participation that leads to cross-age learner development, Gugliotta’s project showed how children, parents, a college student, and an organizer/researcher co-construct language learning in ludic activities that contribute to developing a further sense of community.
Takahashi reported on a case study examining parental positions on heritage language literacy. Her presentation, “Conflicts in Heritage Language Education at a Japanese Community School,” examined how parents’ diverse views on literacy in Japanese affected their support for textbooks and instruction reflecting “nativist” ideologies. Her research raised the question of how heritage language schools can be successful with such varying discourses concerning language instruction.
On the second panel, “Examining Curricular Options for Heritage Language Instruction - Web Materials, Teacher Education, Policy,” doctoral candidate Yvonne Fariño and doctoral student Margaret Felis presented a case study and a curricular project using web resources, respectively. Fariño’s presentation, “Professional Education for Maintaining Heritages in Schools - An Elementary Teacher’s Shifting Perspectives,” was based on her dissertation research examining how teacher professional development programs can address heritage language identity and internalized knowledge about multilingualism. She investigated how language and cognition develop via interactions of language use and metalanguage in the heritage language’s social world. Felis’ project, “YouTube as a Space for Endangered Heritage Languages: Online Representations of Language and Culture” focuses on endangered heritage language and culture representations in a virtual space such as YouTube. Specifically she explored Aromanian/Vlach culture and language, and utilized the concept of active audiences and "the user as producer” to assert that virtual spaces may serve as a valuable community development and educational tool for endangered heritage languages.
Austin’s presentation, “Supporting Heritage Languages in Teacher Education and Curriculum - A Policy Question,” introduced a synthesis of how ecological theories could inform heritage language education. She advocated creating conditions that support intercultural multilingual development in schools that not only draw on, but contribute to community resources. She proposed developing language policy that embraces trans-languaging and hybrid language practices.