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Community-Based Heritage Language Schools Conference

2021 Community-Based Heritage Language Schools Conference - Online in 2021 Promoting Collaboration among Educators, Families, and Researchers

This conference is for program directors and administrators of community-based heritage language schools; members of the language communities involved in these schools; and directors and leaders in public, private, and charter schools who are interested in working with community-based heritage language schools.

2021 Online conference

Friday, October 8, 2021 - 12:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. EDT
Saturday, October 9, 2021 - 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EDT

This conference aims to:

  1. Build partnerships among and across community-based heritage language schools and determine arenas for future action
  2. Help schools create, strengthen, and build their school structures and activities
  3. Make clear the importance of community-based heritage language schools in the United States and in the lives of language communities in this country
  4. Develop information about community-based heritage language schools through a national survey of schools
  5. Share and make available resources that will be helpful to schools

We are looking forward to seeing you at the 8th Annual Community-Based Heritage Language Schools Conference Online!

Before attending the conference:

We will provide an updated YouTube playlist with videos from leaders of organizations connected to the work of community-based heritage langauge schools. In the meantime, please browse videos from 2020 conference presenters.

Friday, October 8

(Eastern Time)

12:00 to 12:30 p.m. - Participant Check-in

12:30 to 1:00 p.m. – Conference Opening

1:00 to 2:30 p.m. - Language-Focused Organizations and Initiatives in the U.S.

These leaders are promoting and helping to sustain and grow language education initiatives in the United States.


2:30 to 2:45 p.m. - Networking Break

2:45 to 4:15 p.m. - Workshop: Beyond the Bake Sale: A Recipe for Sustainable Outreach and Funding

Do you feel like you are living from fundraising event to fundraising event without a plan? Do you wonder where you should even start building a plan for sustainable funding for your organization? There's no exact recipe for fundraising, but with the right ingredients, you can build sustainable funding for your organization! In this session, we'll talk about how you can analyze your current fundraising efforts, how to create a plan to strategically maximize your efforts, and how to engage your board members and bring them on board with the plan!


  • Karen Price, Director, Development and Strategic Partnerships, Eno Center for Transportation; Founder/CEO, The Modern Fundraiser

4:15 to 4:30 p.m. - Networking Break

4:30 to 6:00 p.m. - Workshop: Working with Parents and Engaging Students

Leaders in heritage language schools have spent years connecting with their communities to motivate parents and engage their children in learning the language and connecting with their native culture. “I convince one parent at a time how important it is to teach our language and culture to the next generation and make it a part of their American identity,” says Ashok Ojha, who has directed STARTALK Hindi Programs since 2010. Workshop speakers will present their experiences in Bulgarian, Dari and Pashto, Hindi, Japanese, and Tamil schools.


  • Marta McCabe, Founder and Director, Czech and Slovak School of North Carolina


  • Angela Hasheva, Founder and President, The Association of Bulgarian Schools in America; Founder and Director, The Bulgarian School of Seattle
  • Ashok Ojha, President, Yuva Hindi Sansthan, Edison, New Jersey
  • Farid Saydee, Adjunct Professor, School of Curriculum and Teaching, Kean University (Dari and Pashto)
  • Bob Uriu, Board of Tustees, Orange Coast Gakuen Japanese Language School
  • Sornam Sankar, Co-Founder and Acadmic Head, Ellicott Tamil School, Maryland

Saturday, October 10

(Eastern Time)

9:45-10:05 a.m. – Meet Our International Partners

These leaders are developing and sustaining community-based heritage language education in their countries.


10:05 to 11:30 a.m. - Workshop: Leveraging Technology for Effective Teaching and Leading in Community-Based Heritage Language Schools

Presenters share strategies to build interpersonal communication in hybrid (online and on site) mixed (heritage and non-heritage speakers) classes through STEAM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) lessons.


  •  Maria Carreira, Professor Emerita of Spanish, California State University, Long Beach
  • Agnès Ndiaye Tounkara, Program Officer, French Heritage Language Program, FACE (French American Cultural Exchange) Foundation
  • Bhavya Singh, Director, Bhasha Sanskriti, California (Hindi); Instructional Technology Specialist, Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, New York University (STARTALK - Arabic, Hindi, Urdu)
  • Tommy Lu, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) Working Group member; advisor to the Washington Metropolitan Association of Chinese Schools (WMACS)

11:30 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. - Networking Break

11:45 to 1:15 p.m. - Workshop: Using Inquiry-based, Problem-based, and Project-based Learning with Diverse Learners


  •  Maria Carreira, Professor Emerita of Spanish, California State University, Long Beach
  • J. Eiks Diggs

1:15 to 2:00 p.m. - Lunch

2:00 to 3:30 p.m. - Workshop: Focusing Your Program on Developing Learners' Language Proficiency

All learners want to use their language for real purposes: exploring interesting content in written, spoken, or media messages; exchanging information, ideas, and opinions; and creating messages to inform, persuade, or narrate. Build on your understanding of proficiency to identify what learners need to develop to increase what they can do with and through the language. Apply the design of learning progressions: specific tasks to guide learners to higher levels of proficiency. Focus your program on developing confident and competent language users.


  • Paul Sandrock, Senior Advisor for Language Learning Initiatives, ACTFL

3:30 to 3:45 p.m. - Networking Break

3:45 to 5:15 p.m. - Workshop: Maximizing Language Learner Opportunities with Seals of Biliteracy

Earning a State or Global Seal of Biliteracy is a great way to excite your students about learning a language. Parents see the award's value as a way to distinguish their students on college and scholarship applications. Testing for a Seal of Biliteracy provides your program with evaluative feedback and can demonstrate the efficacy of your program to all stakeholders. This workshop's presenters will share how they are using Seal of Biliteracy programs to grow retention and the language proficiency of their students. We will discuss the various aspects of implementation, including program adoption, promotion, testing, local school coordination, and celebrations.


  • Linda Egnatz, Executive Director, Global Seal of Biliteracy
  • Renati Martin, The Polish American Educational Foundation (NJ)
  • Teresa Gutierrez, French Heritage Language Program (NY)
  • Angela Hasheva, ABSA (WA)
  • Sundari Kumar, Alpharetta Tamil School (GA)
  • Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE)

5:20-6:00 p.m. – Conference Closing

The following languages have been represented at the conference in previous years. The National Coalition of Community-Based Language Schools has language representatives for each of these languages who are closely engaged with practitioners working in community-based heritage language programs in their language community and are interested in making connections with other language groups. Language respresentatives serve as liaisons, creating connections between their language community and the work of the Coalition. Check out the Coalition website to learn more about the language representatives and their responsibilities.

Represented languages include:

American Sign Language
Amharic (Ethiopia)

2018 Keynote Address

Engaging Students in Community-Based Schools


Dr. Maria Carreira, Professor of Spanish at California State University, Long Beach and the Co-director of the National Heritage Language Resource Center at UCLA.


Conference Registration: $25 general online admission for all sessions. Please use this link to register for the conference.

Please note: As of July 2021, the 2021 Community-Based Heritage Language School Conference will be held entirely online. We hope that we will be able to offer an in-person option as well, so that those who want to come to American University for the conference can do so. This decision is pending American University guidelines, CDC recommendations, and space availability. Once we have determined how the hybrid format will work, we will open in-person registration. Currently, you can register for the online conference and add the in-person option when available.

Conference Planning Team

Joy Kreeft Peyton, Conference Chair, Senior Fellow, Center for Applied Linguistics

Ana Lucia Lico, Co-Founder and Board Member, Brazilian Association for Culture and Education (ABRACE)

Marta McCabe, Founder and President, Czech and Slovak School of North Carolina

Danielle Gervais Sodani, Director, Institute of Innovation in Education, American University, School of Education

Mark Forsberg, Program Coordinator, Community-Based Heritage Language Schools Conference