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Community-Based Heritage Language Schools Conference

2023 Community-Based Heritage Language Schools Conference Full Program Reflecting on the Past and Moving into the Future

Conference Presentations [PDF]
Conference Presentation Recording Playlist
Bios of plenary speakers can be found here.


Friday, October 13 – 1:00 to 6:15 p.m. Eastern time
Conference Opening - 1:00-1:30 p.m.
Workshops - 1:45-2:45 p.m.

Using Technology in Instruction



Adam Lee, PhD, Professor, Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland

Teaching and learning can be art and acts of communication in many forms. Artificial intelligence (AI) has combined various technologies that enhance and improve such communications. AI models and tools are based on natural language processing and deep learning. We explore together how AI tools may be used in teaching and learning human languages in these ways:

Practice Conversational Skills: Students can engage in conversational practice with AI tools to improve their speaking and listening skills. They can initiate conversations in a target language, and AI tools can respond as a native speaker, providing feedback and corrections as needed.

Vocabulary Expansion: Students can ask AI tools for translations of words or phrases they are unsure about. They can also practice using new vocabulary by incorporating it into their conversations with AI tools.

Grammar and Sentence Structure: Students can ask AI tools for assistance with grammar rules, sentence structure, and word order. They can ask for help with verb conjugations, adjective agreements, or word placement.

Writing Practice: Students can practice their writing skills by asking AI tools to provide prompts or by requesting feedback on their written work. They can also engage in dialogue-based writing exercises, where they write conversations with AI tools.

Cultural Knowledge: AI tools can provide insights into the target language's culture, customs, and traditions. Students can ask questions about cultural topics, such as greetings, holidays, or social etiquette, and AI tools can provide explanations and examples. 

It is important to note that while AI tools can provide valuable assistance, they are still AI language models and may not always provide perfect or contextually accurate responses. Therefore, it is crucial to combine their use with traditional language learning methods and the guidance of qualified language instructors.

Administering a Heritage Language School: Successfully Leading a Team of Professionals and Volunteers


Angela Hasheva, MBA, Executive Director, Association of Bulgarian Schools in America (ABSA); Director, Bulgarian School of Seattle 

Renate Ludanyi, PhD, Founder, Board Member, German School of Connecticut; Co-Founder, President, German Language School Conference; Director, German Studies Center, Western Connecticut State University 

Marta McCabe, PhD, Instructor, English for International Students, Duke University Graduate School; Founder and President, Czech and Slovak School of North Carolina; Board Member, Coalition of Community-Based Heritage Language Schools 

Heterogeneity is one of the hallmarks of community-based heritage language (CBHL) schools. Choosing a CBHL school for children often involves finding not only a place for language instruction but also a place where students mix with others, of the same linguistic and cultural background, and spend time in an organized and productive environment. Strong school administration is one of the key aspects that make a school successful. Independent of the established governance of mainstream education, CBHL schools must create their own ways of managing. One aspect of school governance is finding and working with volunteers. This workshop describes the structure of HL school administration and discusses the pros and cons of working with paid professionals and volunteers as part of the school team. Participants will be invited to share their experiences and ask questions that pertain to their specific situations.

Workshops – 3:15-4:15 p.m.

Early Childhood Education and Language Learning


Sigrid Belluz, Vice President, German Heritage Language Schools in the United States; Principal, German School of Charlotte, NC  

Antonella Cortese, PhD, Director/Teacher , Comitato Promotore della Lingua Italiana-Scuola Italiana and Past President, International and Heritage Languages Association, Edmonton, Alberta Canada

With the rise in appreciation of heritage language learning in North America, research addressing heritage language learning is becoming more visible, particularly in early childhood educational settings (Escudero, et. al., 2020; Li, 2012). This workshop employs this research as a “jumping off” point and will focus on the facets for creating a successful heritage language learning environment for young children that includes the role of parents, the importance of the “how” of employing HL teaching materials, and above all, keeping students (and their families) engaged in the lifelong learning of heritage languages.


Escudero, P., Diaz Jones, C., Hajek, J., Wigglesworth, G., & Smit, A.E.. (2020). Probability of heritage language use at a supportive early childhood setting in Australia. Frontiers in Education, The Home Language Goes to School: Heritage Language Classroom Learning Environments, Volume 5.

Li, L. (2012). How do immigrant parents support preschoolers’ bilingual heritage language development in a role play context? Australian Journal of Early Childhood, 37(1), 142-151.

Engaging Teachers of Community-based Schools in Professional Development and Growth Opportunities

Masako Douglas, PhD, Professor Emerita, California State University Long Beach

Eva Prionas, PhD, Lecturer, Stanford University (Ret); American Association of Teachers of Modern Greek, Founder and President; Coalition of Community-Based Heritage Language 

Community-based heritage language schools rely on teachers who serve diaspora communities and are dedicated to maintaining and preserving language and cultural heritage. They usually work on a part-time basis, or they volunteer as needed. Professional development programs that offer guidance and support to teachers and their schools, although much needed, are rarely accessible due to limited resources. Professional development initiatives, as ongoing mechanisms built into community-based school programs, can enhance teacher motivation and retention, provide personal and professional growth, and inform and update best educational practices that result in improved student learning outcomes. In this workshop, the presenters discuss how community-based schools can include an ongoing professional development component in their programs to engage teachers in self-reflection and professional growth, and how they can assess the impact and implications of this professional development. Examples include professional development initiatives of Japanese and Modern Greek language programs, for novice teachers and experienced teachers respectively. Participants will engage in a process of reflecting on their own teaching practices. 

Plenary Speaker  – 4:45-5:30 p.m.
Shuhan Wang, 王周淑涵博士, PhD, President, ELE Consulting International; Senior Advisor, Chinese Language Education, Asia Society; Director, Chinese Early Language and Immersion Network (CELIN)
Through sharing her personal, academic, and professional journeys, Dr. Wang illustrates how individuals, communities, and the profession can compose their own stories about their efforts in the intergenerational transmission of heritage languages and cultures in the United States. Drawing on a conceptual framework that she has developed over the years from academic studies and best practices domestically and internationally, she reflects on lessons learned from stories told in numerous community-based schools. Using the tools for story analysis, such as who the narrator and characters are and the context, setting, and plot, she teases out key elements that must be present in a good story. She concludes with significant themes she has learned from her own stories and those of many others, and offers suggestions to participants in community-based heritage language schools on how to compose, tell, and continue their stories. 
Plenary Speaker – 5:45-6:30 p.m.

Supporting Sustainable Less Commonly Taught Community-Based Language Programs


Felix A. Kronenberg, PhD, Director, Center for Language Teaching Advancement (CeLTA)
Director, National Less Commonly Taught Languages Resource Center (NLRC)
Associate Professor, Department of Linguistics, Languages, and Cultures, Michigan State University

This presentation provides an overview of several initiatives that support Less Commonly Taught Language (LCTL) educators and community-based LCTL programs. The initiatives are developed by the Center for Language Teaching Advancement (CeLTA) and the National Less Commonly Taught Languages Resource Center (National LCTL Resource Center, NLRC) at Michigan State University. They include the Teach-A-LCTL resource guides, LCTL Doors (downloadable Online Open Resources) and other Open Educational Resources for LCTLs, the NLRC/CeLTA consulting for community-based education project, expansion of LCTL instruction in CeLTA’s Community Language School (CLS), asymmetrical strategic sharing of LCTLs, and physical learning space design for community-based language education. In addition to demonstrations of the available (and forthcoming!) resources and engagement opportunities, there will be ample time for questions and discussion with the audience. 
Saturday, October 14 – 10:00 a.m.–5:45 p.m. Eastern time
Opening and Review of the Day – 10:00-10:15 a.m.
Plenary Speaker – 10:15-11:00 a.m. 
Motivating Students to Continue Language Development with the Seal of Biliteracy
Kristin J. Davin, PhD, Program Director and Associate Professor of World Language Education, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

This presentation provides an overview of the Seal of Biliteracy and its implementation across the United States. Awarded to individuals proficient in two or more languages, the Seal of Biliteracy serves as an indicator of an individual’s bilingualism and biliteracy. As one of the first language education policies to promote the learning of languages other than English in the United States, the Seal has the potential to bolster multilingualism across the country. In this talk, I describe how some community-based heritage language schools have begun to leverage the Seal of Biliteracy initiative to motivate their students to continue studying their heritage language. I describe how these schools design courses aligned to proficiency guidelines, manage the Seal of Biliteracy assessment process, and, in some cases, provide college scholarships to recipients. I conclude with the voices of students, sharing their perspectives on what the Seal of Biliteracy means to them. 
Workshops – 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Building Extensive Reading Practices in the Classroom


Jim Anderson, PhD, Visiting Research Fellow, Goldsmiths, University of London; Co-Director of Critical Connections: Multilingual Digital Storytelling Project; Member, Home Heritage Language Group in the UK; Association for Language Learning

Paul S. Frank, PhD, Bloom Program Director, SIL International, Explore Bloom > > > (

Renata Emilsson Peskova, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Iceland; President, Móðurmál, the Association on Bilingualism, Iceland 

Huy Phung, Lecturer of Vietnamese, Heritage Language Program, Department of Linguistics, University of California, San Diego

Extensive reading is critical for developing literacies, rich vocabularies, and multifaceted understandings of the world. Pleasure reading and reading for academic purposes are often practiced in community-based heritage language (CBHL) schools. To reach high levels of reading competencies, students need to be engaged in intensive and extensive reading throughout their school years, from a very young age through university. This workshop covers topics such as making reading meaningful and connected to students´ lives; making connections through bi-/multilingual digital storytelling; developing the practices of Read aloud, Read together, and Read more; engaging students in pleasure reading; accessing free online books in over 600 languages, and ways to use them in CBHL schools; incorporating literature into CBHL program curricula; building libraries; and using existing multilingual digital libraries.


Empowerment Through Collaboration: Motivating and Supporting HL Teachers


Melissa Bowles, PhD, Director, National Heritage Language Resource Center (NHLRC), UCLA, California 

Meagan Driver, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Romance and Classical Studies, Second Language Studies PhD program, Michigan State University, Lansing, Michigan 

Sara Roca-Ramirez, Student, Spanish Linguistics; Assistant Director, Spanish Language Program, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Georgetown University, Washington, DC

In this workshop, we begin by engaging with participants to explore some of the challenges related to motivation and support that community-based school teachers face, in order to identify general and language-specific barriers to heritage language education. Through a series of self-reflection activities on personal and pedagogical experiences, we aim to empower teachers to discover their own strengths and agency in building and maintaining engagement and motivation as educators within community-based school contexts. Among the topics discussed are (1) methods for promoting a HL teacher pipeline, particularly for those who themselves identify as HL speakers; (2) reflections on how teachers can use their lived experiences to positively shape the classroom and affect student, teacher, and community wellbeing; and (3) group-led suggestions for teachers on how to foster collaboration with HLLs to identify classroom goals and challenges.

We will also discuss two NHLRC initiatives that aim to make the important work in community-based schools more visible. The first is our recently launched nationwide survey of heritage learners, which seeks to understand the extent to which a series of factors, including community school enrollment, are significant predictors of 1) HL maintenance and 2) increased proficiency in the four skills. This will be the largest collection of data on community-based school outcomes to date. The second is an initiative to pair community-based school teachers with HL researchers to work collaboratively to design classroom-based studies that document the impact that instruction has on students’ motivation, affect, and language abilities. Such collaborations will lead to increased knowledge about teaching and learning in community-based schools and contribute to a greater understanding of the methods that are most effective for HL learners in this context. We will show an example of a research project conducted in a Turkish community school in Chicago to showcase and demystify the research process. By working together, teachers and researchers can collaboratively maximize learning opportunities for HL learners in community-based schools without adding undue burden to the demanding job.

Lunch – 12:15-1:15 p.m.
Workshops – 1:15-2:15 p.m.

Features of High-Quality Instruction

An Chung Cheng, PhD, Chair and Professor of the Department of World Languages and Cultures, the University of Toledo

Susana Benites, ISLA Program Director of Educational Programs, ISLA Board of Directors Education Committee; and Aerin Benavides, ISLA Board of Directors Education Committee; Adjunct Assistant Research Professor, School of Education, University of North Carolina 



Creating Outreach Materials to Raise Awareness

Gisi Cannizzaro, PhD, Managing Director, HLE Network, Netherlands

Amanda Seewald, Executive Director, JNCL/NCLIS   

Targeted and engaging outreach is crucial for running a successful HL school. In addition to helping you build a clear image of your school to facilitate finding new students and teachers, the resources you create for outreach can serve as advocacy tools to garner support by attracting sponsors! This workshop explains why outreach is so important for running an HL school and describes who the primary audiences are. It also highlights an example of a successful outreach campaign and provides tools and resources you can use in the context of your own school. Participants have the opportunity to share their experiences and ask questions.


Embassy and Foundation Leaders - 2:30-3:15 p.m.

In this panel, leaders of Embassies and the Japan Foundation describe how they support the heritage language speakers and community-based schools in the U.S. that speak and are teaching their language.

  • Embassy of France - Xavier Moquet, Education Attaché
  • Embassy of Germany- Katharina Grüninger, Cultural Affairs Section, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany 
  • The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles - Yasuko Uchida, Director
  • Embassy of Spain - Jesús Fernández González, PhD,  Education Counselor


 U.S. Department of Education and Student Panel – 3:30-4:30 p.m.

In this panel, Melissa Castillo describes the focus and work of OELA and outlines ways in which OELA can connect with the mission and activities of community-based heritage language schools. The students then describe the schools they have attended, the awards they have earned, and what use of and proficiency in the language means to them.

  • Melissa Castillo, Senior Advisor, Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA), U.S. Department of Education
  • Liliana Dave - Botev Academy Bulgarian School; Walt Whitman High School; University of Michigan
  • Patrick Ostermann-Healey - German Language Courses at the German International School Washington, DC
  • Gabriel Lico Bickham – ABRACE Portuguese School; Western Academy of Beijing; University of Virginia
10th Anniversary Celebration – 4:30-4:50 p.m

Networking Workshops - 5:00-5:30 p.m.

What Schools Are Doing to Engage Students in Learning the Language They Teach: Art and Songs 
Shahid Iqbal, President, Indus Arts Council (Urdu) 

Afaf Ali, Research Fellow, National Heritage Language Resource Center (NHLRC) (Arabic)

Melissa Bowles, PhD, Director, National Heritage Language Resource Center (NHLRC), UCLA, California 
Masako Douglas, PhD, Professor Emerita, California State University Long Beach
Rajiv Ranjan, PhD, Department of South Asian Studies, Michigan State University
What International Organizations Are Doing With Community-Based Schools 
Renata Emilsson Peskova, PhD, Assistant Professor at the School of Education, University of Iceland
Gisi Cannizzaro, PhD, Managing Director, Heritage Language Education Network (HLE Network), Netherlands
Antonella Cortese, PhD, Director/Teacher, Comitato Promotore della Lingua Italiana-Scuola Italiana and Past President, International and Heritage Languages Association, Edmonton, Alberta Canada
Susana Benites, ISLA Program Director of Educational Programs, ISLA Board of Directors Education Committee; and Aerin Benavides, ISLA Board of Directors Education Committee; Adjunct Assistant Research Professor, School of Education, University of North Carolina
Conference Closing  5:30-5:45 p.m.
Reception – 5:45- 6:30 p.m.