Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft Leibniz-Gemeinschaft

DGfS-Workshop: Heritage speakers learning languages: Looking beyond the societal language

Organizer(s) Clara Fridman (Bar-Ilan University), Onur Özsoy (ZAS) & Kateryna Iefremenko (ZAS, University of Potsdam)
Workshop 47. DGfS-Jahrestagung
Start of event 04.03.2025, 10.00 o'clock
End of event 07.03.2025, 18.00 o'clock
Venue Mainz


This workshop focuses on heritage language speakers/signers (HS) as language learners, emphasizing the linguistic diversity, change and variation within and beyond the language classroom. A long-standing debate in the field of L3/Ln acquisition regards the relative influence of each of the previously acquired languages (Rothman et al. 2019). By explicitly investigating the heritage language (HL) context, we can consider the effects of language dominance and acquisition context on language learning outcomes. Furthermore, we are interested in the ways in which learning a foreign language can affect existing linguistic skills and general cognitive processes in the HS. Additionally, when formally studying their HL, HS pose a unique pedagogical challenge that distinguishes them from L2 learners (Polinsky 2015). Their language competencies set them apart: HS may have strong listening skills, a wider vocabulary, and greater cultural insights, while struggling more with reading and writing. Thus, HL courses need to adapt their curricula and assessments accordingly, in order to account for the variation among the HL learners.

We invite papers from all linguistic subfields and methodological and theoretical backgrounds.  In particular, we welcome studies related to any of the following topics:

  • Acquisition of third or further languages (L3, Ln) by heritage speakers
  • Heritage speakers’ re-acquisition (or strengthening) of their HL in a classroom setting
  • Sociolinguistic and Cultural Dimensions of Heritage Language Learning
  • The influence of HL education and other background factors (cognitive, linguistic, demographic) on language outcomes

We invite 1 page abstracts (excl. references) for 20 min presentations (incl. 10 min discussion). Please email abstracts as a PDF to fb2heritage@leibniz-zas.de  by August 30, 2024. 

- Polinsky, Maria. 2015. Heritage languages and their speakers: State of the field, challenges, perspectives for future work, and methodologies. Zeitschrift für Fremdsprachwissenschaft 26. 7-27.

- Rothman, Jason, Jorge González Alonso & Eloi Puig-Mayenco. 2019. Third language acquisition and linguistic transfer (Vol. 163). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.