First International Heritage Language Conference


From Los Angeles a short information about the

First International Heritage Language Conference

which takes place at the University of California (Los Angeles, UCLA)
Febr. 19-21, 2010 in the spirit of the International Mother Language Day
2010 (text below extracted from a statement by O. Kagan who authorised the

The conference is organized by Prof. Olga Kagan and her committed teamby
the National Heritage Language Resource Center (NHLRC), one of fifteen
National Language Resource Centers funded by the U.S. Department of
Education. The Center’s mission is to research all aspects of heritage
language acquisition, and to apply the findings to curriculum development
and teacher training.
The great interest this conference has received serves as evidence that
the field of heritage language education is developing and rapidly coming
into its own. This is the result of a collaborative effort among many
disciplines. The presenters gathered here approach the issue from a wide
variety of perspectives, such as linguistics, applied
linguistics, policy research, curriculum development, and classroom
teaching, and represent a large number of
languages and countries.
The term “heritage” referring to languages and speakers is mainly used in
the United States and Canada; other terms
are used in other parts of the world to describe home languages that
differ from a society’s dominant language and
the people who speak those languages. Our use of “heritage/community
languages” in the title underscores the
conference’s international and collaborative spirit. It is our hope that
this conference will lead to many new
collaborations, between researchers and practitioners of many disciplines
and from many countries.

An Africa specific view –

As a special contribution to the International Mother Language Day on
Febr. 21, 2010, Karsten Legère of the African Language Group at University
of Gothenburg (GU, Department of Languages and Literatures) organizes two
thematically interwoven panels at the first International Conference on
Heritage/Community Languages held at the University of California in Los
Angeles (19-21/2/2010). These panels deal with Heritage Languages of
Tanzania that are studied in a bilateral cooperation project between
linguists of the University of Dar es Salaam and of GU (afrikanska språk).
Since 2001 the SIDA funded cooperation has produced substantial results
for a number of Tanzanian languages that were unwritten and almost not
documented so far. Thus, at last year’s Mother Language Day (2009) an
impressive book launch in Dar es Salaam made a number of publications
about and in Tanzanian heritage languages available.
The on-going Los Angeles Conference brings together 300 Heritage Languages
experts (including 5 colleagues from Stockholm institutions) whose profile
ranges from language policy, heritage language instruction to research.
The participants are committed to the promotion of heritage languages
especially in education. This focus reflects UNESCO’s ideal of mother
tongue instruction and multilingual learning that is i. a. addressed at
the Mother Language Day.
As earlier stated by the conference organizers, the workshops on Tanzanian
heritage languages are a welcome enrichment to the conference programme
from a perspective that is widely ignored or underrepresented at
international meetings. The panel discussants that were invited to present
their Tanzania heritage language oriented research and experience come
from Japan, Tanzania, USA and two from Gothenburg.

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