Heritage language development

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This chapter examines the roles of: (a) ethnic identity, (b) participation in a Japanese heritage language (JHL) school, and (c) the perceived vitality of the local Japanese community in California in promoting learners’ proficiency in Japanese. Questionnaires were given to 31 JHL learners, from grades seven through eleven, who lived in California and attended a <i>hoshuukoo </i>(Saturday Japanese supplementary school) there. The major finding of this chapter is that attendance at a <i>hoshuukoo </i>promoted the development of Japanese proficiency and Japanese ethnic identity. In addition, the results also reveal that the highschool students identified themselves as more Japanese than the younger students. Attendance at the <i>hoshuukoo </i>appears to be increasingly important over time to the students developing their JHL proficiency – particularly developing their Japanese literacy skills.


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