The Heritage-bilingual Linguistic Proficiency in their Native Grammar (HeLPiNG) project is a multimillion-euro grant funded by Tromsø Forskningsstiftelse (Tromsø Research Foundation) (2019-2023). Heritage language bilingualism has shown significant degrees of variation in development, but especially ultimate attainment outcomes from monolinguals of the same language and across individual heritage speakers.
Who is a heritage speaker (HS)?
Heritage Language Bilingualism (HLB) applies to situations where one of the languages, the language spoken at home, is a minority (immigrant) language with limited distribution in the larger society and formal literacy-education in the heritage language (HL) is not typically provided by the society. Any home language other than German in Germany, Japanese in Japan, Turkish in Turkey, English in the United States, for example, would be a HL, because immigrant children in such contexts would acquire their home, minority language as their first language and subsequently be exposed to the majority language later on, at the latest in school, where it is likely to become their dominant language over time.
The primary objective of HeLPiNG is to answer:
Why is Heritage language bilingualism characterized by such variation in grammatical knowledge and language use to degrees unseen in monolinguals?
By addressing these equally fundamental secondary objective questions:
(Aim 1) When and why do developing monolinguals and heritage speakers (HS) begin to diverge for the same language?
(Aim 2) At what levels (under what modalities of testing) do HSs truly differ?
(Aim 3) What is the role of the (lack of) HL literacy in explaining (some) observed HS outcomes?
HeLPiNG will address these queries combining insights from several work packages focusing on complementary questions and using complementary methodologies (cross-sectional and longitudinal offline behavioral testing, EEG/ERP, eye-tracking).