Contact Us: [email protected]

What are Heritage Languages?

“Heritage Languages are minority languages learned in a bilingual or multilingual environment. They include languages in diaspora [used] by immigrants and their children, aboriginal or indigenous languages, and historical minority languages that coexist with other standard languages… Heritage languages are precious linguistic, cultural, and personal resources for individuals and for society…” (Montrul and Polinsky, 2022)

Who are Heritage Learners?

Heritage Speakers/Users have acquired their heritage language skills in their home or community. They have always been in a multilingual environment but have most likely experienced subtractive bilingualism.

Heritage Language Learners are trying to regain or improve their understanding and use of a heritage language through formal study or in the classroom.

Those who are heritage motivated have a cultural heritage connection to the language but have not had the opportunity to acquire the language in the home. In the classroom, heritage motivated students may have extensive knowledge of the social expectations and cultural dimension of the language but begin learning the language in a classroom setting. Heritage motivation is an essential aspect of language revitalization.

What is a Heritage Language Program?

School-based heritage language programs are:

  • a path to multiliteracy for Washington’s students; AND
  • one of the paths to dual language for Washington’s schools; AND
  • based in identity-affirming, equity-based instruction; AND
  • different from other forms of language teaching; AND
  • support the academic and linguistic development of multilingual learners.

School- based heritage language programs are not:

  • one-size fits all
  • only available to a certain age student
  • instead of English language development for ML/English learners
  • Purpose of Heritage Language Program

What are the benefits of Heritage Language Programs for students?

  • Visibility and voice
  • Connections to family, community and personal heritages
  • Increased sense of belonging
  • Increased academic achievement across languages
  • Development of academic identity
  • Stronger writing in all languages
  • Opportunities for advanced and dual credit (7-12)
  • Seal(s) of Biliteracy
  • College and career opportunities in all their languages

Who is eligible?

Heritage language programs serve students who are developing the language of their community, home, or family across purposes. Establish enrollment policies prioritize access to the heritage language program for eligible and exited multilingual English learners while ensuring access for all students with a prior connection to the language through their community, home, or family. Since heritage language programs are collaboratively developed with heritage language communities, eligibility for particular heritage programs is determined by the input and preferences of the community.

Residents of Bellevue School District will be given priority enrollment. Students residing outside of Bellevue School District boundaries are eligible to apply and will be accepted on a space-available basis. If spaces become unavailable we will establish a waitlist procedure.  The procedure will be similar to what we’ve established for our other choice programs.

OSPI Heritage Language Program Resources
The Bellevue School District acknowledges that we learn, work, live and gather on the Indigenous Land of the Coast Salish peoples, specifically the Duwamish and Snoqualmie Tribes. We thank these caretakers of this land, who have lived and continue to live here, since time immemorial.