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FYI: Linguistic Research Project on Petridish.org


Author: Corinne Seals

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
Language Documentation
Sociolinguistics

FYI Body: Dear Linguists,

Recently, a new research funding source was launched, Petridish.org,
and it has already been featured by Scientific American, Wired
Magazine, and the Huffington Post.

Currently, my research project on heritage language learners is being
featured on the website and is the first social science project to be
launched by Petridish.

Please take a look at the project by visiting the following URL:

http://www.petridish.org/projects/successful-education-for-heritage-
language-learners

Below is a description of the project:

Immigration is becoming increasingly common around the world, and as
a result, many language policies are becoming stricter. But what about
the children of émigré families who grow up with one language but then
shift to the socially dominant language? Once people have lost a
language while growing up, they find it very difficult to reclaim it as an
adult. Yet, fluent multilingualism is an asset in the growing global
market. Therefore, we should be working to help children from émigré
communities maintain their heritage languages.

How then can we create an educational program that achieves success
in simultaneously teaching the heritage language and the socially
dominant language to heritage language learners for mastery over
both? At present, this effort has been taken on predominately by
individual émigré communities, which find a way to teach the heritage
language once per week at best. However, I have identified and
conducted pilot data from a public primary school in the United States
that has found a way to foster multilingualism for heritage language
learners in the school itself.

By returning to conduct in-depth fieldwork, I will be asking the following
questions:

1) What are characteristics of the system being used by the school to
support heritage language learners?
2) What about the system is making it successful?
3) How is this success evidenced through aspects of the heritage
language learners’ classroom participation?
4) How can this success be replicated in other schools and educational
programs?

Please pass this message on to anyone who may be interested.

Thank you!

Corinne Seals
Georgetown University
contact: cas257@georgetown.edu

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