Heritage Language Learners in Mixed University Classes: Language Skills, Attitudes, and Implications for Curriculum Development

  • Marianthi Oikonomakou
  • Themistoklis Aravossitas
  • Eleni Skourtou
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Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


Heritage languages are often taught in mixed classrooms attended by both heritage language learners (HLLs) and foreign language learners (FLLs). This coexistence can be problematic for one of the two groups of students, or both, if their various learning needs are not identified and reflected in the course curriculum. Our research follows a modular approach focusing on (a) the effects of individual social and cultural characteristics in the development and assessment of language skills in the teaching of Greek as a heritage language, and (b) the necessity of elaborating a teaching framework that meets specific and individual needs of learners. Using questionnaires for our data collection, we investigated the structure and organization of two Modern Greek university programs in Toronto (University of Toronto and York University) comprised of both HL and FL learners. Our study explores several social, cultural, and teaching aspects to illustrate a comprehensive mapping of this educational challenge. We intend to use the findings toward restructuring the curricula by adopting more realistic and effective teaching approaches that take into consideration the negotiation of identities in the teaching of heritage languages.


Educational research Heritage and foreign language pedagogy Modern Greek language Identity negotiation Teaching methodology Self-assessment Additional language curriculum development 



This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marianthi Oikonomakou
    • 1
  • Themistoklis Aravossitas
    • 2
    • 3
  • Eleni Skourtou
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Primary EducationUniversity of the AegeanRhodesGreece
  2. 2.CERES-Munk School of Global AffairsUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Department of Languages, Literatures and LinguisticsYork UniversityTorontoCanada

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