11. Literacy in heritage languages

heritage languages, literacy, reading, writing, pedagogy

Irina A. Sekerina, College of Staten Island, City University of New York
Fatih Bayram, The Arctic University of Norway at Tromsø
Olga Parshina, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia

Modern definition of literacy is understood more than just mastery of reading and writing skills. It is also a social and culturally determined construct as it entails ability to use these skills appropriately in socially relevant situations and within relevant registers. Literacy also involves familiarity with different genres as well as conventions that govern each genre, such as lexical, grammatical, pragmatic, and syntactic. A (fully) literate person is therefore expected to use proper language forms across a wide range of contexts.
Heritage speakers (HSs) vary tremendously when it comes to literacy in their heritage language (HL). While some are formally trained fluent readers and writers, others cannot read or write at all, especially when the HL uses an orthography (e.g., Cyrillic, Chinese, Arabic) that differs from that of the societal language (e.g., English, German). Despite the dramatic increase in the number of HSs in the United States and Europe as well as the exponential growth in the number of HL studies in the last two decades, the research on the effect of literacy on the knowledge of HL is still underrepresented relative to investigation of more linguistic-internal aspects of HL competence and performance across different modalities (i.e., spoken vs written).
The proposed thematic section on literacy in HLs is based on 15 presentations in total, divided into 3 sessions with an interdisciplinary focus bringing together experts and studies from different disciplines such as experimental psycholinguistics (Session A), HL pedagogy (Session B), and writing development (Session C). Session A „Experimental Approaches” is composed of 5 presentations that use different experimental methodologies (e.g., eye-tracking, ERPs, cross-linguistic lexical tasks). The questions addressed vary from comprehension of passive to classifiers to anaphora, participants are either children or adults or both, and HLs are also diverse: Spanish, German, Japanese, Italian and Russian. Session B „Pedagogical Approaches” includes 6 presentations that address various factors in HL pedagogy: formal teaching of HL writing in the college classroom, the impact of dual immersion classroom in secondary school, policies concerning developing literacy in HLs, the effects of literacy in the societal language on that in the HL, and the facilitatory effect of literacy in HL on people’s identity. Finally, Session C „Spelling and Orthography” consists of 4 presentations all of which investigate written corpora of texts and essays produced by HSs and L2 learners. The focus is on the kinds of specific errors HSs make in their writing and what accounts for these errors. Together the participants will discuss approaches to literacy and untangling its effects on HLs and will serve as a new collaborative forum that will allow presenters and audience interested in this complex interdisciplinary area of research to connect with each other in a live discussion.
The two leaders for the proposed thematic section are an established scholar (Irina Sekerina) and a rising young researcher (Fatih Bayram) in the area of heritage languages whose interests encompass literacy in HLs. Two of the proposed presentations are by the two leaders whose biographical sketches follow this abstract.

  1. The Impact of Literacy on the Comprehension of Verbal Passives in School-age Spanish Heritage Speakers, Andrew Armstrong and Silvina Montrul
  2. The Relation Between Reading and Prediction in Biliterate Children, Jasmijn Bosch and Francesca Foppolo
  3. Does Exposure of Formal Literacy Affect Classifiers in Heritage Japanese?: A large-scale study, Maki Kubota, Jorge Gonzalez Alonso, Jason Rothman
  4. Individual Differences in Pronoun Processing in Heritage Speakers of Spanish: Data from ERPs, Eleonora Rossi
  5. Monolingual and Heritage Bilingual Strategies in Reading in Russian, Olga Parshina, Irina A. Sekerina, Anastasiya Lopukhina, Titus von der Malsburg
  6. Writing Proficiency Development of Young Adults Spanish Heritage Language Learners, Alberta Gatti and Syelle Graves
  7. Does context matter? Insights from Turkish heritage language teaching practices in Germany, Fatih Bayram
  8. The Spanish proficiency of Latino students in dual immersion vs. English only classrooms:  A pseudo-longitudinal study across multiple domains, Kim Potowski and Megan Marshall
  9. Impact of literacy on heritage Turkish in Germany and the U.S., Christoph Schroeder and Kateryna Lefremenko
  10. Owning Turkish and Kurmanji-Kurdish literacy in Germany: A qualitative look at language-biographical agency, Annette Herkenrath
  11. Early Literacy in Russian and Turkish as Home Languages in the Context of German as L2, Natalia Gagarina, Nathalie Topaj, Sophia Czapka
  12. Orthographic errors in the writing of heritage learners of Russian, Olesya Kisselev and Irina Dubinina
  13. The Effect of Speech on Errors in the Written Language in Heritage and L2 Learners of Russian, Kristina V. Litvintseva
  14. Implications of corpus-based analysis for word representation by heritage speakers of Russian, Anastasia Vyrenkova
  15. Italian-German bilingual schooling: Heritage classes and bilingual programs compared, Tanja Rinker, Theresa Bloder, Kathleen Plötner
  16. Vocabulary development in the heritage language between ages 6 and 10, Elke G. Montanari
  17. The effects of different home language instruction practices on Turkish heritage speakers’ lexical knowledge, Till Woerfel and Seda Yilmaz Woerfel
  18. The use of pronoun interpretation biases in Heritage speakers of Spanish: the role of language experience., Carla Contemori and Alma Armendariz Galaviz