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. 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 HSs begin to diverge for the same language?, (Aim 2) at what levels (under what modalities of testing) do HSs truly differ? and (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). 



The Bilingual Literacy and Input Negotiate Knowledge (BLINK) project is funded by the European Union’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA) (August 15, 2018 – August 15, 2020). BLINK proposes a novel approach to studying Heritage Language Bilingualism (HLB), combining offline and online methods. BLINK focuses on a severely understudied, yet crucially important age group (age 9-15) of heritage speaker (HS) bilinguals. We examine the role and weight of key variables that (potentially) contribute to ubiquitous differences between these populations and matched monolingual counterparts. To this end, we capitalize on the relatively unique opportunity Turkish provides as a heritage language acquired in its diaspora in the EU (the snapshot will be Norway and Germany). More specifically, we want to (i) investigate knowledge/production of word order and Case marking in HS Turkish and whether/how their relationship is employed for predictive processing and (ii) examine the extent to which input-experience factors that can vary considerably at the HLB individual level interact to explain HS performance variances.


The Preservation and Adaptation in Turkish as a Heritage Language (PATH) project is funded by the European Union’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA) (September 1, 2019 – September 1, 2020). Languages exhibit changes occurring within only a couple of generations in bilingual situations, especially in those cases where the affected language is a heritage language. At the same time, speakers of heritage languages preserve particular properties of the dialect they speak, such as in cases that result from migration, being geographically isolated from the native context of their language. In order to provide a description and explanation of contact-induced language change on the one hand, and isolation-induced dialect preservation on the other, PATH examines the degree to which cognitive and external factors play a role in variation and change in Turkish as a heritage language. In order to do so, it closely examines a variety of morpho-phonological, lexical and syntactic properties of a micro-dialect of Turkish as spoken by a community in Drunen, a small town in the North Brabant province of the Netherlands. 

Investigating Proxies for Understanding Trajectories: Heritage Language Maintenance and Child Second Language Acquisition in Refugee Contexts (INPUT) will examine heritage language and child second language development in the European refugee context. The project is funded by the European Union’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA) (March 1, 2021 – February 28, 2023). INPUT will significantly add to a sub-field of bilingualism studies, Heritage Language Bilingualism (HLB), by studying refugee heritage speakers in Europe, an understudied subset of HLB. This empirical study will investigate linguistic and extra-linguistic variables affecting the development of both the societal majority language and the heritage language with the goal of impacting education policy development. Heritage language Syrian Arabic in Germany and second language German will be investigated with a focus on 6- to 12-year-old children to examine developmental trajectories. The overall research objective is to understand the extent to which increased or reduced heritage language exposure affects heritage language and child second language trajectories and outcomes. For Europe, supporting refugee youth can have significant impact towards the publicly stated goal of integrating this population into their newly adopted countries. One major impediment to this integration is their successful acquisition of the societal majority language while maintaining and developing the first language. Our hypothesis is that support for continued development in the heritage language will improve second language development with knock-on effects for the academic achievement of refugees. At present, heritage language support and training varies tremendously all over Europe. Project findings will be relevant especially for policy makers, teachers, school principals and HLB communities in European countries that have seen a notable increase of Syrian Arabic heritage speakers. To date, most heritage language studies have focused exclusively on the minority language, INPUT helps to fill an important gap by focusing on both languages.

Cross-Linguistic Influence of Competing Knowledge: Comparative Morphosyntactic Variations in Heritage Language Development. The project is funded by the European Union’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA)Due to increasing global mobility, research into how immigrants acquire and use multiple languages has become a major topic in the past few decades. However, comparatively little is known about how the developmental trajectories of native minority languages (i.e. heritage languages (HLs)) are shaped alongside the societal languages in their children who are heritage speakers (HSs). The CLICK project, as the first study to investigate how different societal languages leave their traces on the developmental trajectories of the same HL, will make a significant contribution to an emergent subfield of bilingualism, namely Heritage Language Bilingualism (HLB). This will be done by studying HSs of Persian/Farsi in contact with two societally dominant languages in France and Spain. We will innovatively combine offline and online methodologies to explore whether or not the syntactic status of pronominal subjects (null and overt subjects in the case of Spanish versus overt subjects only as in French) affects the development and maintenance of related properties in Persian as a HL. Additionally, we will strive to establish if a novel co-registered methodology which combines online and offline measures in the same task offers a promising test battery to better capture underlying grammars of HSs in different language contact situations.