Language Teacher Education for a World on the Move: Meeting the Needs of Diverse Student Populations

Tenth International Conference on Language Teacher Education

Olga Kagan


Olga Kagan
Director, UCLA National Heritage Language Resource Center; Professor UCLA


Olga Kagan is a professor in the UCLA Department of Slavic, East European and Eurasian Languages and Cultures and director of the Title VI National Heritage Language Resource Center (NHLRC). Kagan is in also director of the Russian Flagship Center. She has published textbooks of Russian both as a foreign language and as a heritage language. Her textbook of Russian as a Heritage Language, Russian for Russians, received a book award from the American Association of Teachers of Russian and Eastern European Languages (AATSEEL). Her current main research interest is the teaching of heritage languages. In 2015 she received the MLA Award for Distinguished Service to the Profession.

Looking into the Future: A (Utopian?) Model of Heritage Language Education

My presentation will concern the past, present and future of heritage language teacher education in the United States. I will argue for a need to institutionalize heritage language programs, i.e., to make them long term and viable, as well as dependent on steady funding. To support my argument I will discuss the results of a national survey of heritage language learners. The survey results combined with the data from several recent research projects will serve as a foundation for three proposals I will make. I will propose that school districts should offer the languages of local communities for both heritage and foreign language learners. I will also suggest that language programs should set the goals of teaching heritage languages to high levels of proficiency, i.e., use proficiency standards when assessing both student achievement and program effectiveness. And finally, I will argue for making teacher preparation of HL instructors an integral part of language teacher education.