Heritage Language Learning and Self-identity

Open Access
Jin, Xiunan
Graduate Program:
Curriculum and Instruction
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
March 07, 2019
Committee Members:
  • Gail Louise Boldt, Thesis Advisor
  • Uju Anya, Committee Member
  • heritage language
  • self-identity
  • language learning proficiency
  • curriculum and pedagogy
  • culture
  • identity construction
Many immigrant families (most of whom are minorities) are concerned with the first language (L1) maintenance of their children living in a new country. Some of them still use their mother-language at home and go to the heritage language school weekly to learn heritage language (HL) and cultural traditions. Meanwhile, some of them lose their chance to learn or use their heritage language because of the low exposure of mother-language in the environment of majority language and culture. In this study, I aim to research factors that impact heritage language learning by analyzing interview data from four subjects, two American-born Chinese, one American-born Korean, and one Chinese-born ethnic Koreans, to understand the relationship between HL learning and self-identity. The goal of this study is to contribute to curriculum and pedagogy design for HL learning. The results show that parental and family involvement play a big role of HL language learning. School climates effect one’s cultural identity as well. The qualitative analysis also indicates that one’s HL language proficiency do not positively correlate to his/her cultural identity because of the intricate relationship between identity construction and HL learning.