Supporting Both Heritage and Non-Heritage Learners in Your French Classroom

by Elizabeth Zwanziger
@ElizabethZwanz1


The demographics of French learners in the United States continue to evolve as we welcome newcomers from around the globe and our population grows more diverse. According to Statista, in 2019 there were over 1.2 million people in the U.S. who speak French at home,1 and francophone families must make important decisions regarding balancing language use at home and at school. Francophone families speak French at home to maintain cultural ties to their place of origin or to ensure children can communicate with family members here or abroad.

Children in these families are likely to be considered heritage speakers of French, a subset of multilingual people who have varying experience in the language. They may or may not have lived part of their lives in a francophone country or attended school in that language. They may understand the language, but not speak it. They may speak the language, but not write it. They may not have used the language themselves, but feel a familial or cultural connection to it. Each individual heritage speaker’s cultural and linguistic biography is unique.

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