This entry provides an overview of how heritage languages (HLs), that is, languages other than English spoken in U.S. homes, contribute to diversity in society and in the postsecondary educational system. It first defines terms that have gained wide usage over the past 10 to 15 years. Next, the entry explains the role of demographics in HL education, including the nature of geographic and linguistic diversity among heritage language learners. The entry will conclude with a discussion of why these languages are important and why teaching them requires an approach different from that used to teach foreign languages.


A HL is a language learned by an individual in his or her family but never fully acquired because of a switch to another dominant language. A heritage ...

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