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Current Issues in Heritage Language Acquisition

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 July 2010

Abstract

An increasing trend in many postsecondary foreign language classes in North America is the presence of heritage language learners. Heritage language learners are speakers of ethnolinguistically minority languages who were exposed to the language in the family since childhood and as adults wish to learn, relearn, or improve their current level of linguistic proficiency in their family language. This article discusses the development of the linguistic and grammatical knowledge of heritage language speakers from childhood to adulthood and the conditions under which language learning does or does not occur. Placing heritage language acquisition within current and viable cognitive and linguistic theories of acquisition, I discuss what most recent basic research has so far uncovered about heritage speakers of different languages and their language learning process. I conclude with directions for future research.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2010

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