I am looking to develop a long-term collaboration with a group of teachers who have experience teaching sections exclusively for heritage learners. Our goal will be to publish a group of personal essays about teaching heritage learners informed by our successful practices. This will not be a prescriptive guide (“one must do X, Y but not Z!”) but rather a group of personal essays describing different facets of our courses which, when published together, opens up a world of possibilities to the new teacher of heritage learners. We will certainly describe a diversity of approaches (I have yet to meet a single teacher of heritage learners who feels that they have mastered their course), but the key element that ties it all together is that we are all CI teachers who are sensitive to (1) the power of reading, (2) language shyness and the unique language issues related to identity that heritage learners may bring to the classroom, and (3) the absolute, ridiculous waste of time that are activities like spelling lists, grammar activities, accent quizzes, lectures about B´s, V´s and H´s (for Spanish) and such things.
Perhaps it is the Californian in me, but I believe that reaching heritage learners is the urgent and overlooked challenge facing our profession. Every year I am contacted by teachers who, willingly or unwillingly, are thrust into a new teaching challenge for which they are woefully unprepared. I was woefully unprepared when I started teaching heritage learners. My impression is that there are departments who are farming out their heritage learners’ classes to the newest, least prepared teachers because these classes tend to be hard to teach. I have read about departments that urge heritage learners to simply abandon their home language in favor of a foreign one. My hope is to collaborate and gather so much classroom wisdom in one book that my colleagues will confidently approach their heritage-learner courses with joy.
If you are interested in joining this collaboration, or you just want to hear more before committing, please comment below (I won´t publish the comment) and I will respond by email or, if you already know it, just respond to my gmail address.