Sixth Heritage Language Research Institute

From Overhearers to High Proficiency Speakers: Advancing Heritage Learners' Skills


June 18 - 22, 2012
University of California,
Los Angeles

Directed by: Professor Maria Polinsky (Harvard)

The cornerstone project for the National Heritage Language Resource Center is an annual research institute, established to support the Center's principal mission of developing the research base for heritage language education. This year the institute is co-sponsored by the NSEP National Language Flagship Program as part of their Flagship Results 2012 initiative.

The Sixth Institute will focus on current linguistic research and its implications for heritage language instruction, especially with regard to pedagogical approaches that help advance heritage speakers' language skills toward high levels of proficiency. Research on heritage speakers' proficiency relies on sophisticated methods of experimental and pedagogical testing and this year's Institute will include a series of hands-on workshops which will allow researchers and educators to explore experimental methodologies in language sciences: eye-tracking, brain imaging, computational modeling, phonetic analysis, etc. We will also draw on the experience of Language Flagship programs across the U.S. to explore new approaches in the heritage language classroom.

The Fourth Institute, held in 2010, culminated in the publication of a White Paper which details the findings of linguistic research with regard to heritage language speakers. This paper summarizes past findings and has set the agenda for subsequent heritage language research and, in part, for this year's institute.