Heritage languages in Switzerland : insight from Babylonia 1/23 [Podcast]

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The maintenance of heritage languages among migrant children is an issue of growing international interest. To provide an overview of existing projects on this topic in Switzerland, the journal Babylonia is releasing an issue entitled „Heritage Languages in Switzerland“, co-edited by Verónica Sánchez Abchi (researcher at the IRDP in Neuchâtel and teacher at the IUFE in Geneva) and Amelia Lambelet (managing editor of Babylonia and visiting researcher at CUNY). In this podcast, the editors not only discuss the contributions of the issue but also share their thoughts on the editorial process.

When preparing the issue, the editors observed that while there is a fair amount of work done on language awareness (éveil aux langues), there is less research to be found on the teaching of heritage languages. Thus, this issue focuses both on the development of heritage language proficiency and on the contribution of heritage languages to the language awareness approach.

The abstracts received for the call for papers also highlighted the fact that only some of the heritage languages present in Switzerland are the focus of research or didactic projects. In the podcast, the editors suggest some reasons why some languages were absent from the submissions they received. In particular, they mention an article that points out the link between the importance that migrant children give to their heritage language in their social circles and the prestige status of these languages in the host society.

The maintenance of languages considered less prestigious in the host society is not given the same attention by speakers and research. These languages are not valued in the same way in society as languages considered more prestigious.

Verónica Sánchez Abchi

The issue is remarkable for the contribution of many teachers of HLC (Heritage Language and Culture) courses, sharing their practices and experiences in the field.

We received many proposals that really came from the field, especially from HLC teachers who talked about their practices and experiences. It is quite new for Babylonia to receive so many proposals from the field.

Amelia Lambelet

The issue also includes articles dealing with the teaching of French as a language of origin in the Swiss-German context. These articles problematize the need for pedagogical differentiation of students with French as a heritage language.

The editors encourage us to discover this issue, which contains not only research articles and field experiences but also more applied work on the development of didactic materials.

The issue will be of interest to teachers, but also to researchers, educational material editors, institutional leaders and parents.

The articles are available free of charge here

This issue is enriched with artworks by Marco Scorti

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