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7th International Conference on Second Language Pedagogies

GLOW Workshop III - Heritage Language Knowledge and Acquisition
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3/13/2017 to 3/18/2017
When: Mar 13-18, 2017
Where: Workshop III of GLOW

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Invited Speakers: Silvina Montrul, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Organizers: Hamida Demirdache (LLING, UMR 6310/University of Nantes) and Janet Grijzenhout (University of Konstanz)

Workshop description: Heritage language bilinguals acquire a minority home/Heritage language (HL) from birth as well as a different Majority Language (ML) of the ambient society they grow up in. In their first years of life, heritage language users acquire their HL from their parents, siblings and larger family in a naturalistic way. Increased exposure to the ML typically means reduced input and unstable exposure to the HL. Moreover, the language input they receive may be different from that of monolingual speakers who grow up in a society where the language in question is the dominant language, e.g. because the parents are second- or third-generation immigrants with some attrition of their first language or because of changes due to language contact.

HL users do not fit into the dichotomy native vs. non-native, or L1 vs. L2 speakers. Unlike L2 speakers (but like native speakers), heritage speakers are exposed to the target language during the critical period. Just like L2 speakers, heritage speakers fail to converge on the target language, exhibiting variability in ultimate attainment. In particular, HL users can exhibit varying degrees of command of their first (heritage) language and their second (majority) language, ranging from mere receptive competence (so called passive or receptive bilingualism), to proficiency in the two languages, but with a strongly dominant majority language. [See seminal papers by Andersen 1982, Benmamoun, Montrul & Polinsky 2010, 2013 among many others].

We seek to bring together researchers on heritage languages to shed new light on the longstanding issues that knowledge of language and acquisition raise. We invite submissions that address (but are not limited to) the following topics:

Native vs. heritage vs. second language knowledge and acquisition

  • To what extent and in which linguistics areas do HL users show different/similar competences and performances compared to monolinguals?
  • How do we investigate or compare acquisition and knowledge of an L1 that has been acquired as the sole L1 from birth with a HL/L1 acquired in the home context in a society where the dominant language is not the L1?
  • Which differences in which linguistic areas can be identified between acquisition of a HL during childhood and (adult) L2 acquisition by non-heritage speakers?

Heritage acquisition vs. language attrition 

What are the differences between partial acquisition of an L1 by 2nd generation speakers vs. attrition of an L1 by 1rstgeneration speakers —in particular, in their impact on linguistic domains (lexicon, phonology, morphosyntax, semantics, pragmatics)?

Heritage speaker knowledge: comprehension vs. production 

To what extent can there be fluent, native-like comprehension/knowledge of language even in the absence of speech (so called ‘receptive’ or passive bilingualism) —raising the issue of whether speakers make use of the same knowledge/grammar for both comprehension & production, and of how to scientifically characterize native knowledge of language.

How can HL research contribute to our knowledge of the language faculty and language development?

  • What is native knowledge of a language? Can there be native-like competence without production?
  • What are possible effects of reduced input during childhood in an L1 (when acquisition is interrupted/slowed down) on language competence?

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