National Coalition of Community-Based Language Schools

Mission Statement

The National Coalition of Community-Based Heritage Language Schools is a nationwide initiative established to support, guide, and promote the interests of community-based heritage language schools and organizations across the United States. Our goals are to facilitate communication among community-based heritage language programs; increase the visibility and recognition of these programs within the U.S. education system on local, state, and national levels; and document places where heritage language teaching and learning are taking place in these schools in the United States.

Community-Based Heritage Language Schools

Community-based heritage language schools are typically non-profit organizations founded and operated by parents from the respective immigrant or heritage language community for the purpose of maintaining and teaching the language and culture of their heritage. The language is usually (but not always) spoken in the home or the community. They might offer classes for learners from PreK – Grade 12 as well as for adults.

Although these schools often rent space in public or private schools on weekends (Saturday or Sunday) or after school during the week, they operate outside the public and private school systems. They supplement the education that students receive in their regular school and are not subject to the regulations of the U.S. education system. As permitted, the schools administer U.S. language tests and often those of the home country as well.

Coalition Goals

  1. Facilitate communication among community-based heritage language (HL) schools and heritage language programs and organizations in order to:
    • Form partnerships with and learn from representatives of different languages and schools/programs
    • Share experiences about best practices in heritage language education
    • Articulate the most pressing needs and challenges common to programs
    • Help to unite community-based heritage language schools in all languages in the U.S. to be able to lobby for our shared needs
  2. Increase the visibility of and represent HL schools to U.S. educators (school districts), politicians (U.S. Department of Education, State Boards of Education), and researchers
  3. Develop official statistics on HL teaching and learning by collecting comprehensive data about HL programs and press for inclusion of this data in official U.S. education statistics
  4. Ensure that HL students receive U.S. high school credit for their language skills. Urge for recognition of students’ heritage language proficiency via AP credit, the Seal of Biliteracy, or other means.
  5. Voice the need for financial support and funding for community-based heritage language programs
  6. Provide resources on important topics via our website, forums, briefs, and an annual conference. Topics include:
    • How to start a new program
    • How to improve an existing program (teacher training, teacher retention, increased enrollment, student and parent engagement, etc.)
    • How to reach out to and work together with the local language community
    • Legal issues (forming a nonprofit organization, tax issues, human resources, etc.)

Coalition Activities

  1. Organize an annual conference on Community-Based Heritage Language Schools
  2. Operate a Coalition website that provides
    • Resources for HL schools nationwide
    • Opportunities for program staff to communicate about important issues (via online Forums)
  3. Document all community-based HL programs nationwide by collecting data via an online survey
  4. Connect with language communities and schools through the work of Language Representatives
  5. Prepare accessible, research-based Briefs on important topics in HL education and research
  6. Send out regular email updates about activities of the Coalition and in the field of HL education 

Coalition Language Representatives

Coalition Language Representatives are closely engaged with those working in community-based heritage language programs in their language community and are interested in making connections with other language groups and with the national effort, the Coalition. They serve as a liaison between their language community and the work of the Coalition, so that we work together effectively.

Survey of Community-Based Heritage Language Schools in the United States

The Coalition is conducting a national survey to document community-based heritage language schools in the United States. This is the first survey that attempts to reach out to and document this specific set of schools and students. Survey results provide important data about these schools -- their key features, challenges, and accomplishments.

This report describes data collected so far. You can help us keep this information by documenting your school! Simply take a few minutes to complete the survey.

Other Heritage Language Resources

In addition to the Coalition, other organizations focus on heritage language learners and provide information and resources.

Discussion Forum

The website was created to provide a forum where information and resources can be shared among community-based language schools, and discussions of relevant topics can take place. We hope that in making connections between schools that operate in different regions of the country and teach different languages we can learn from each other and support the mission of these important organizations.

 The idea for this website began with a discussion during the Heritage SIG meeting at the 2013 ACTFL conference. Community school administrators and teachers expressed a need to share information on a variety of topics, from teacher training to finding insurance and fundraising. We hope this forum will fill that space and also offer an opportunity for national recognition of community language schools.

We look forward to hearing from you and hope you will join the discussion.

Go to Discussion Forum.