This presentation discusses the development of writing in heritage language learners from a proficiency development framework. Within this framework, accuracy—including grammatical accuracy—is considered in relation to the performance of specific linguistic functions, the text type required to perform the function, the particular content being addressed and the context in which it is addressed (ACTFL, 2012). This presentation will start by providing a quick review of this framework and its connection to literacy development. Then, given that the successful cultivation of heritage language writers’ unique linguistic expertise hinges on a solid understanding of their skills and on research-based instructional practices, this presentation will review the findings of three research projects that investigate the writing of heritage language learners from the standpoint of proficiency: a study on the linguistic profile of heritage language writers (conducted with heritage speakers of Mandarin, Korean and Spanish); a study on their linguistic development in classroom settings (conducted with heritage speakers of Spanish); and a study on the relationship between oral and writing proficiency (also conducted with heritage speakers of Spanish). Finally, the presentation will connect these research findings to classroom practices that leverage the specific strengths of heritage language learners while addressing their weaknesses in writing.
ACTFL. (2012). ACTFL proficiency guidelines [Electronic version]. Retrieved May 15th, 2020, from http://www.actfl.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/ACTFLProficiencyGuidelines2012_-FINAL.pdf.