Heritage Language Learners: Proficiency Levels and Sociolinguistic Profiles

Document Type

Grant Proposal

Date Accepted

Spring 2004

Project Description/Abstract

Many students of Portuguese at BSC can be identified as heritage language learners. They mostly belong to two groups: first, Portuguese heritage speakers whose families immigrated from the Azores, Madeira or Portugal; second, Cape Verdeans, who speak Cape Verdean Creole and Portuguese. There are important differences between groups, although they share a heritage language. All of these learners have varying degrees of proficiency. They often have better speaking skills than traditional learners, but lack comparable literacy skills. The goals of this project are to (1) identify the similarities and differences between learners and their proficiency levels using a reading/recall test, grammar test and a written sample, (2) take comparative measurements of traditional second language learners, and (3) analyze the data from learners in order to document proficiency levels and sociolinguistic profiles. The results of this study will point to significant differences between learner groups and ultimately help inform the development of more appropriate pedagogical materials for heritage language learner classes.

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