Report of the NHRC First International Conference on Heritage/Community Languages, February 19-21, 2010 at UCLA
This was indeed a very successful and well organized conference in the field of heritage language teaching. There were many interesting panels and presentations.
I was extremely impressed by the panel moderated by Nelleke Van Deusen-Scholl on “Identity in HL Learning and Maintenance,” which explored a wide range of contexts for heritage language learning that have not yet been extensively researched. The presentations on “Chinese Learners in Hawaii, Turkish Learners in New York and German Learners in Canada” gave me clear pictures of students in colleges and weekend community schools with a variety of linguistic backgrounds in different areas and countries. I can better understand how the students recognize their identity, their learning environment and motivations. The presentation on “Using Rhythmic Chants to Teach Heritage Learners” was also very interesting. It discussed the use of rhythmic chants as a pedagogical tool, based on materials from the author’s eight-volume Easy Chinese Textbook Series for heritage speakers and it also demonstrated how these chants could be applied to learners at a certain level. I attended the panel on “Multiple Perspectives on Chinese Heritage Learners in Arizona State University Language Flagship.” All those presentations have enlightened and encouraged me to make more contributions in heritage teaching pedagogy and material development in the future. As professor Guadalupe Valdes said in her acceptance address, we need to think about how to pass our heritage language on to our children and grandchildren.
On the whole, this conference provided a wonderful opportunity for me to do my presentation on Chinese heritage students’ motivation, needs and teaching materials and allowed me to share my perspectives with other professionals. It was also a great learning experience for me.