Misplaced Heritage Language Learners of Japanese in Secondary Schools

National Heritage Language Resource Center with support from the UCLA International Institute.
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Heritage Language Journal, 2012, 9 (2), pp. 70 - 84
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While heritage language learners are becoming visible in the research literature as a distinct group of language learners with specific needs, existing curriculum structures in secondary schools often focus on programs either for foreign language learners or for first language learners. The study reported here examines the experiences of heritage learners of Japanese who have been inappropriately placed in courses designed for native speakers and as a result, in some cases, have withdrawn from taking any formal program of Japanese language study. Focusing on the situation of Australian senior secondary Japanese students, this article reports the findings of questionnaire and interview data, featuring the voices of both teachers and heritage learners of Japanese. The data identify the issues that delineate heritage language learners from native speakers and highlight, through the experiences of misplaced learners, the need for appropriate placement, pedagogy and curriculum.
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