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Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Shannon Bischoff


Department of English & Linguistics

University Affiliation

Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne


A heritage language is a “language with which [people] have a personal historical connection, most often because they come from homes in which the language is spoken” (Bateman & Wilkinson, 2010). Many heritage language speakers and families live in the United States, and many parents within these families make the effort to teach their children the native language in addition to the dominant language of the society. However, some bilingual parents decide against this, instead solely favoring the more mainstream language. Even among parents for whom teaching the heritage language is a priority, for a number of reasons, the amount of Spanish language that they are able to expose their children to is significantly lower than the amount they themselves received, which may adversely affect their ability to acquire the language (Potowski, 2004). The neglect of one’s native language can be viewed as a stepping stone to abandoning one’s culture, which has been shown to have negative effects on self esteem and sense of identity (Schwartz, Zamboanga, & Hernandez Jarvis, 2007). Additionally, the children of bilinguals who were not given the chance to become proficient in the heritage language often report embarrassment for not being able to speak what they perceive as their native language, as well as the missed opportunities for jobs and a deeper cultural connection and understanding (Cho, 2000). In this presentation, the motivations behind only teaching the dominant language will be explored, and the positive aspects of maintaining one’s native language in addition to the language of the dominant culture will be presented. In addition, a case study of a bilingual Spanish and English speaker in the U.S. who opted not to teach his children Spanish will be presented in light of the major claims found in the literature.


Linguistics | Social and Behavioral Sciences

Heritage in Decline: The Detriments and Dangers of Heritage Language Loss

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