Annual Community-Based Heritage Language Schools Conference Promoting Collaboration among Educators, Families, and Researchers

This conference is for program directors and administrators of community-based heritage language schools; members of the language communities involved in these schools; and directors and leaders in public, private, and charter schools who are interested in working with community-based heritage language schools.

Conference Goals

The goals of the conference are to

  1. Build partnerships among and across community-based heritage language schools and determine arenas for future action
  2. Help schools create, strengthen, and build their school structures and activities
  3. Make clear the importance of community-based heritage language schools in the United States and in the lives of language communities in this country
  4. Develop information about community-based heritage language schools through a national survey of schools
  5. Share and make available resources that will be helpful to schools

Conference Sponsors

The conference is sponsored by American University's School of Education and TESOL Program in Washington, DC; the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL); National Heritage Language Resource Center (NHLRC) at UCLA; and the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).

Conference Planning Team

  • Joy Kreeft Peyton, Conference Chair, Senior Fellow, Center for Applied Linguistics
  • Ana Lucia Lico, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Brazilian Association for Culture and Education (ABRACE)
  • Danielle Gervais Sodani, Director, Institute of Innovation in Education, American University, School of Education
  • Polina Vinogradova, Director, TESOL Program, Department of World Languages and Cultures, American University


We have a rich and powerful program and a wonderful set of speakers. We will hear from the speakers and have significant amounts of time to work and interact with and learn from them and each other. Language Representatives from many different heritage languages will represent their diverse language communities.

2017 Opening Keynote

The Power of the Heritage Language in Identity Formation and Engagement [Slides] [Video]
Dr. Guadalupe Valdés
Bonnie Katz Tenenbaum Professor of Education Stanford Graduate School of Education Stanford University

Please read about all of the 2017 conference's presenters

Themes and Topics Covered in 2017 (in presentations and small-group discussions)

Key Aspects of Strong Community-Based Heritage Language Programs

  1. Teacher Retention and Professional Development
  2. Assessing Student Learning
  3. Building Family Support and Community Engagement
Sustaining Programs by Making Connections With Others
  1. Advocacy and Collaboration
  2. Recognition of Student Proficiency and Achievement
  3. Funding Sources for Programs
The National Coalition of Community-Based Heritage Language Schools
  1. The Coalition as an initiative that we can all engage in
  2. The Coalition website and available resources
  3. The survey of community-based heritage language programs
  4. Ways that Language Representatives can engage their communities

2017 Presenters included

Leaders of Major Education Organizations

  • Marty Abbott, Executive Director, American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL)
  • Liz Blesson, Dual Language Analyst, DC Public Schools (Coordinator of DCPS Seal of Biliteracy)
  • Katarina Brito, Bilingual Program Developer, DC Public Schools (Developer of DCPS Seal of Biliteracy)
  • Claire Hitchins Chik, Associate Director of the Title VI National Heritage Language Resource Center
  • Anne Donovan and Jing Wei, Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL)
  • Betsy Hart, Director of Programs, National Foreign Language Center (NFLC), and STARTALK
  • José A. Viana, Assistant Deputy Secretary and Director, Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA), U.S. Department of Education

Founders and Leaders of Programs Focused on Specific Languages

American Sign Language (ASL)

  • Ted Supalla, Professor, Neurology, Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery, Georgetown University

Brazilian Portuguese

  • Ana Lucia Lico, Co-founder and Executive Director, ABRACE


  • AnChung Cheng, Professor, University of Toledo; Vice-President, National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages
  • Tommy Lu, Ex-Officio Board Director, Chinese School of Delaware

Czech and Slovak

  • Marta McCabe, Founder and President, Czech and Slovak School of North Carolina
  • Mathilde Landier, French Heritage Language Program Coordinator (French Cultural Services/FACE Foundation)
  • Jane Ross, French Heritage Language Program, New York, New York
  • Sigrid Belluz, Vice President, German Language School Conference; Principal, German School, Charlotte, NC
  • Renate Ludanyi, President, German Language School Conference; Principal, German School of Connecticut, Stamford - Hartford; Director, German Studies Center, Western Connecticut State University
  • Surendra and Vijay Gambhir, Emeritus Faculty, University of Pennsylvania
  • Masako Douglas, Professor of Japanese, Department of Asian and Asian American Studies, California State University, Long Beach
  • Neila Baumiliene, Director, Kazickas Family Foundation, New York, New York
  • Gaila Narkevičienė, Principal, Boston Lithuanian School

Save the Date for 2018

Saturday, October 13

8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. 

American University

Previous Conference Resources

2017 Conference Schedule and Resources

2016 Conference Resources

2015 Conference Resources

Thank you to our 2018 Conference Sponsors!

Sponsors: AU School of Education, AU TESOL Program, Center for Applied Linguistics, National Heritage Language Resource Center
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