HERITAGE LANGUAGES

A heritage language is one that families bring with them when they move from one country to another. At the same time, speakers of a heritage language are also expected to speak the language of the country or society they have moved to. The latter is called the ‘dominant language’. Typically, increased exposure to the dominant language means reduced input from the heritage language, resulting in so-called unbalanced bi- or multilingualism.

In the context of a globalised Europe, the number of bilinguals based on a heritage language (with varying degrees of command of the heritage language) is on the rise. Nonetheless, there is surprisingly little research into bi-/multilingualism based on heritage languages. Moreover, speakers of heritage languages often face particular barriers relating to perceptions of immigration and ethnic diversity across Europe.

Objectives: 

This research theme is therefore geared towards understanding how to help speakers maintain their heritage language and reach proficient bi- or multilingualism. In order to reach this main objective, researchers first need to understand the sociolinguistic context and the factors contributing to partial language development (when the heritage language is not acquired completely) as well as the attrition of heritage languages (when speakers lose proficiency in their heritage language).

The researchers will investigate a speaker’s knowledge of his or her heritage language and compare this to his or her proficiency in this language by various methods, including questionnaires, interviews and on-line experiments. They do this with a view to preserving and improving linguistic knowledge of heritage languages across Europe, thereby stimulating multilingualism as an important resource in European societies. Finally, this group of researchers will investigate the impact heritage languages have on the dominant language.

RESEARCH TEAM HERITAGE LANGUAGES

Our research team consists of researchers from 4 institutions across 3 EU countries.
Meet our team leaders:

LATEST PUBLICATIONS

Working paper: Why do multiethnolects develop? (Jan 2019)

As one of AThEME's deliverables, one of the researchers from Queen Mary University of London, wrote a working paper called 'Why do multiethnolects develop? This paper is currently under review. Please find an abstract below: In many northern…

Article on heritage languages and knowledge acquisition (Dec 2018)

Researchers from the university of Nantes wrote and article on heritage languages and knowledge acquisition. As it states in the introduction 'this paper seeks to bring novel experimental data to bear on the well-known and thorny issue of intervention…

Article on sociological and sociolinguistic variables conditioning acquisition of heritage languages (November 2018)

This working paper written by researchers from the University of Konstanz is a comparison of bilingual youth from immigrant families with different ages of onset of L2 acquisition to native monolinguals. It asks the question if simultaneous…

NEWSFLASH

Final AThEME poster (2019)

AThEME has produced a double-sided poster outlining key findings dealing with regional/minority and heritage languages in Europe;  multilingualism and communicative impairment and being multilingual.   FINAL ATHEME POSTER

Winter 2018 issue of the AThEME newsletter - out now!

The ninth and last issue of the AThEME e-newsletter gives a wealth of information about what our researchers and dissemination partners have been up to these last couple of months. As always, the newsletter includes updates on research, dissemination…

SUMMER 2018 ISSUE OF THE ATHEME NEWSLETTER – OUT NOW!

The eighth issue of the AThEME e-newsletter gives a wealth of information about what our researchers and dissemination partners have been up to these last couple of months. As always, the newsletter includes updates on research, dissemination…