Different Perspectives on Language Learning
International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism
2016, volume 21, issue 8
This paper compares the attitudes of heritage language learners and second language learners regarding language learning. One finding discussed in the paper is that heritage learners were less motivated than second language learners to study languages, and they were less likely to think that learning a language would yield personal or professional benefits.
The current study examines the attitudes of heritage language learners (HLLs) and second language learners (SLLs) about their classroom language learning experiences and language learning in general, using data from high school students who participated in STARTALK summer language study programs in 2014 and 2015. Analysis of students’ responses to survey questions indicate that compared to SLLs, HLLs were less motivated to study their language or other languages, and they were less likely to believe that learning a new language would help them academically and professionally. While further research is necessary to determine the precise causes of these results, it is possible that mixed classes (HLLs and SLLs together) may have contributed. Furthermore, the failure of the language instruction to meet HLLs’ specific needs may have also played a role. Given the value of heritage language knowledge to the individual, it is important to gain insights into the experiences of HLLs and counteract demotivating factors in the classroom.