Does context matter? Insights from Turkish heritage language teaching practices in Germany

Thematic Section: Literacy in heritage languages

heritage languages, literacy, reading, writing, pedagogy

Fatih Bayram, UiT The Arctic University of Norway

This is an ongoing study that aims to bring together perspectives from Turkish heritage language speakers and teachers in Germany with the largest Turkish diaspora community in the world. The nature of the (formal) Turkish instruction varies remarkably across federal states in Germany. While in some it might be part of the school system (e.g. bilingual schools in Berlin) and in others it is only offered as an extracurricular activity (e.g., weekend classes) organized by the Turkish Ministry of Education (TME) or other community centers. In some cases it is simply a home training done by parents. With a detailed questionnaire we explore how context of teaching and learning (bilingual school vs TME classes vs community centers vs home training) determines the processes, practices and outcomes. We assess teachers’ understanding of what a heritage language is, what they aim to achieve in the classroom, what tools and practices they utilize to get there. We juxtapose this against the beliefs and expectations of heritage speakers who attend these classes. The results will be discussed in light of the current debates in the literature (e.g., nativeness, proficiency, ultimate attainment, individual differences, standard variety) to offer insights for developing more effective and more appropriate practices for teaching heritage languages.