Heritage Language Survey Report

Sec. 4/10: Language Use

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These questions focus on the respondents’ language use in the past and present, specifically, which language they use with different conversational partners.

15. What language do you speak most of the time?

The majority of respondents, 980, reported speaking English most of the time. 611 reported speaking a combination of English and their HL, while only 72 respondents answered that they use their HL predominantly. Of the 6 “Other” respondents, most reported that they spoke a third language most of the time, either alone or in combination with English and their HL.

16. What language(s) do you speak at home with your parents/family?

When asked what language they speak at home with their parents, the HL gains in dominance over English, but the largest number of respondents, 765, reported that they spoke a combination of English and their HL with their parents. 646 reported speaking their HL most of the time, and 233 reported speaking English most of the time with their parents. Again, the 23 “Other” respondents all reported speaking a third language with their family, either alone or in combination with English and/or the HL.

17. What language(s) do you speak with your friends?

The picture changes when the respondents were asked what language they speak with their friends. An overwhelming number of respondents, 1,159, reported speaking English most of the time with friends. 478 reported speaking a combination of English and their HL with friends, and only 20 answered that they predominantly used their HL with friends. Of the 14 “Other” respondents, some used a third language, and others reported using a combination of English and their HL, “depending on the friend.”

18. What language did you use most at the following periods in your life?

The graph above shows the dramatic decline in students’ use of their HL as they age. While 70% of respondents said they used their HL predominantly before the age of five, only 1.2% age 18 and over said the same. A slight majority of respondents said they mostly used “both” English and the HL from ages six to 18 and over. 45% of respondents reported using mostly English since age 18. However, 59% of respondents reported using English most of the time in response to question 15 (“What language do you speak most of the time?”), which suggests a discrepancy.