Heritage Language Program

Did you know that with the 3rd generation a heritage language is in danger of disappearing? Even within families, the first child often speaks well, the second less, and the third, sometimes not at all.

What is a heritage language learner?

A heritage language learner (HLL) is a person studying a language with proficiency in or a cultural connection to that language. However, just as there are different kinds of heritage languages, there are many types of heritage language learners.

Heritage language learners form an invaluable resource of potential and notable language proficiency. If you are a heritage language learner, at UChicago we want to include you in our language programs by developing specific course curricula that match your particular needs.

Venn diagram of heritage learners

Are you a heritage
language learner?

  • Were you raised in a home where a language other than English was spoken?
  • Do you have a personal, family, or community connection to another language than English, but you received the majority of your formal education in English?
  • Do you feel you have little experience using the language spoken at home in formal settings?
  • Do you speak or merely understand the non-English language spoken at home and are you to some degree bilingual in that language and in English?
If your answer to any of these questions is YES, you are a heritage language learner!

View all heritage language courses offered at UChicago

As a heritage language learner, what do I gain by taking one or more language courses especially designed for HLL?

After taking one or more courses for students who are HLL, you will feel more connected to your cultural history and background, while reaching higher practical and advanced proficiency in the language.

After completing an intermediate course (or courses), you may qualify to take the Proficiency Exam. HLL who successfully pass a University of Chicago oral and written proficiency test will receive a certificate of advanced proficiency in their heritage language and will have this proficiency noted on their transcripts.

Also, in the last few years many students who are HLL decided to pursue a Minor or Major in their heritage language after taking one or more courses in the HLL sequence.

For further information, please contact Lidwina van den Hout, Heritage Language Program Coordinator, at lmvdhout@uchicago.edu.


Additional Information for Course Instructors