Using Materials in Refugee and Immigrant Adults' Heritage Languages in Instruction: Challenges and Guidance for Teachers and Tutors

Using Materials in Refugee and Immigrant Adults' Heritage Languages in Instruction: Challenges and Guidance for Teachers and Tutors

Fernanda Minuz (Independent Researcher, Italy), Belma Haznedar (Boğaziçi University, Turkey), Joy Kreeft Peyton (Center for Applied Linguistics, USA), and Martha Young-Scholten (Newcastle University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2722-1.ch020
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There has been a shift in receiving countries and their education programs for adult immigrants around the world. A complete focus on immigrants' cultural integration and learning of the language of the country has shifted to an understanding that supporting heritage language maintenance benefits adults with little or no formal schooling in that language, including a more nuanced sense of identity, stronger second language (L2) and literacy learning, and confidence in supporting the schooling of the younger members of their communities. Teachers and tutors need, but lack, professional development focused on implementing instructional approaches that incorporate this new focus and on using reading materials in learners' languages. This chapter describes a new Online Heritage Language Resource Hub, which gives teachers, tutors, adult learners, and younger members of the community access to materials in hundreds of immigrants' languages. It also provides teachers ways to use the reading materials in the Hub in their classes with adult learners.
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This chapter describes the benefits–to individuals, families, and communities–of adults maintaining, and younger members of the community developing, full proficiency in their heritage languages at the same time as an additional language or languages (typically the majority or dominant language of a country) are being acquired. It then describes the challenges that this approach can present for teachers, tutors, and program administrators as they seek to integrate this understanding and associated approaches into their programs and instruction, particularly when working with adults with little or no formal schooling or literacy in their home or heritage language. Next, the chapter presents a new online Heritage Language Hub of links to reading resources, in hundreds of languages, that is available and easily accessible to educators and adult learners in their programs. The chapter also details specific instructional strategies that teachers and tutors working with adult learners can use. The goal of the chapter is for educators working with this learner population to understand the importance of valuing, sustaining, and developing learners’ heritage languages, and to be able to use the resources described (see also Durgunoglu & Nimer in this volume).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Second Language/L2: Any language learned after the first or native language, L1. For the learners described in this chapter, this could mean multiple languages.

Biliteracy: The ability to read and write in more than one language (also referred to as multiliteracy).

Reading Materials: Stories and non-fiction works that students can read in class, alone, and with family and community members.

Practitioner Guidelines: Instructions for teachers, tutors, and administrators on using the Online Heritage Language Resource Hub in different instructional contexts and with students at different level.

Instructional Strategies: Specific strategies that teachers use to promote student engagement and learning.

Focus Group Discussions: Discussions among education practitioners led by a moderator/researcher and focused on specific topics, for the purpose of determining their knowledge, attitudes, and needs.

Plurilingual Instructional Approaches: Using the language of the country as well as the languages that students know in instruction.

Heritage Language Maintenance: Continuing to use, and possibly develop and become literate in the language(s) spoken in one’s home or community – their first language (L1)/home language/native language/language of origin.

Limited Literacy: Limited ability to read and write due to limited access to schooling; it can include limited understanding of the use of paper, pencil, pen, or computer; of the left-to-right or right-to-left direction of print; and of the ways that sounds and symbols interact to represent meaning.

Online Resource Hub: Collection of reading resources available through links.

Bilingualism: The ability to understand and speak more than one language (also referred to as multilingualism).

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