Heritage Language FAQs
Information about heritage speakers and heritage languages
What is a heritage speaker?
- A heritage speaker is "a person who is raised in a home where a language other than English is spoken, who speaks or understands that language, and who is to some degree bilingual in English and the home language."1
What is a heritage language?
- It’s a "language other than English that is acquired first but learned incompletely due to emigration and/or schooling in English."2
Why should heritage speakers study a language they already know?
- They may understand and speak their heritage language better than many foreign language learners who have studied for years, but their knowledge is limited by a lack of formal education. They need to develop that knowledge and remedy their deficiencies.
Why can't heritage speakers take regular classes at an advanced level?
- Their skills are unevenly developed. Some heritage student may not be able to read or write in their heritage language at all. Their needs are substantially different than those of foreign language students.
Why is heritage language education important?
- According to the U.S. Census, 54% of Los Angeles County residents speak a language other than English at home. There are many heritage speakers at UCLA and throughout UC.
- HL knowledge is a resource for the speaker personally and professionally as well as for families and communities. It is also a resource for the U.S, which suffers from a shortage of Americans who know languages well enough to use them on a professional level.
1.Valdés, Guadalupe. Introduction. Spanish for Native Speakers, Volume 1. AATSP Professional Development Series Handbook for Teachers K-16. New York, NY: Harcourt College Publishers, 2000.(back)
Published: Wednesday, August 31, 2005