Heritage Language Education: Administrative and teachers perceptions of community- based and school-based classrooms across the United States
Bryfonski, Lara E
Thus far, K-12 and higher education heritage language (HL) programs have been treated as an adjunct to traditional world language classrooms which have been constructed for second language learners (Carreira & Chik, 2018). Meanwhile, students of less commonly taught HLs have had to resort to community schools to fill the linguistic and cultural void that traditional schooling cannot provide them (Compton, 2001). While previous research has recommendations specifically for HL program goals (Valdés, 1995; Aparicio, 1997) and the potential challenges they may face (Wang, 2001), little is known about the similarities and differences of school-based and community-based classrooms (Campbell, 2001) and how that varies across stakeholders. To fill this gap, this study used data extracted from the Center of Applied Linguistics Heritage Languages in America profile database, which contains 878 data entries of HL classrooms throughout the United States and a survey collecting perceptions of 8 HL teachers across five languages. The quantitative data collected via the profile database was divided into two categories-- school-based and community-based programs-- which were then compared for similarities or differences across 2 domains –goals and reported challenges. The quantitative data was coded using an inductive coding process. Given the variability in the goals section, it was further divided into four subcategories: language, culture, community, and attitudes; while the challenges section was each kept as one category. A Chi-squared test of independence was conducted for the goals section to test for the relationship between the program type and their language, culture, community, and attitude goals, while descriptive analysis was used for the potential challenges. The teachers’ perception data was analyzed descriptively shed light on the goals and challenges from within the classroom. Simultaneous interpretation of qualitative and quantitative data provided a rich picture of how HL programs compare across various stakeholders. To highlight these findings, the discussion section illustrates examples drawn from both school-based and community-based program profiles, as well as recommended solutions posited by previous research (Willoughby, 2014; Valdés, 1995). Importantly, by calling attention to the current practices and needs of HL classrooms; researchers, educators, and policymakers now have the foundation to create revised HL program goals that support these unique learners and the educators.
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