Heritage Language Students of Japanese in Traditional Foreign Language Classes: A Preliminary Empirical Study

by Kimi Kondo-Brown
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Title:
Heritage Language Students of Japanese in Traditional Foreign Language Classes: A Preliminary Empirical Study
Author:
Kimi Kondo-Brown
Year: 
2001
Publication: 
Japanese Language and Literature
Volume: 
35
Issue: 
2
Start Page: 
157
End Page: 
179
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English
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Abstract:

Heritage Language Students of Japanese in Traditional Foreign Language Classes: A Preliminary Empirical Study1

Kimi Kondo-Brown

1. Introduction

Many heritage language (HL) students of Japanese who wish to study their home language in formal school settings have no choice but to take traditional foreign language classes. This preliminary study examines the relationships between the number of years of high-school Japanese and the students' demonstrated levels of receptive and productive skills among HL and non-HL students of Japanese.

In a country like the United States, which has a long history of two diverging principles of language policy, namely, a subtractive policy of language assimilation for language minorities and an additive policy of foreign language study for mainstream English monolinguals (Baker 1996; Crawford 1992; Ovando 1990; Wiley and Lukes 1996), most school-age immigrant children quickly shift their language to English unless there is a strong family commitment to maintain the language (Bayley, Schecter, and Torres-Ayala 1996; Fishman 199 1 ;Hakuta and D'Andrea 1993; Hinton 1999; Kondo 1998a; Wong Fillmore 199 1). However, in recent years, an unprecedented interest has arisen among applied linguists and educators in the role of formal education in assisting language minority students to develop their heritage languages (Brecht and Ingold 1998; Campbell and Peyton 1998). This trend reflects an awareness that heritage language students' rich linguistic and cultural resources are invaluable national as- sets that should no longer be neglected and wasted during formal schooling.

A growing number of minority education studies have argued for the importance of active school involvement in the development of heritage languages. These arguments are based on the idea that language minority students who preserve their own language and culture as well as their distinct ethnic identity have strong pride in their heritage, succeed in mainstream school and society, and have satisfying communication with

Japanese Language and Literature 35 (2001) 157-1 79

their family members (e.g., Cummins 1981; Davis 1999; Delgado-Gaitan and Trueba 1991; Hakuta 1996; Krashen 1998; Krashen and Biber 1988: Dornbusch, Prescott, and Ritter 1987; Gibson 1988; Nieto 1996).

Studies in applied linguistics have emphasized the special language needs of heritage language students-needs that are different from those of non-heritage language students-and have proposed theoretical frame- works for ways to conceptualize heritage language students' language abilities and ways to best approach heritage language instruction (e.g., Merino, Trueba, and Samaniego 1993; Valdes 1995; Valdes and Figueroa 1994). At the same time, the number of special heritage language programs offered in secondary schools and universities continues to grow, especially in the context of teaching Spanish for native speakers (Collison 1994; McQuillan 1996, 1998; Lewelling and Peyton 1999; Roca and Marcos 1999).

However, most heritage language students from other heritage language backgrounds who have wanted to learn their home language in mainstream institutions normally have had no choice but to study the language in traditional foreign language classes. Concern has arisen that such students may be wasting many hours by attending classes which are not tailored to meet their special needs (Marcos 1999). The situation of heritage lan- guage students of Japanese in the state of Hawai'i is a case in point. In Hawai'i, Japanese is the most commonly taught foreign language (Hawaii Department of Education 1995) as well as the most common non-English language used in the home (Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism 1995), and many heritage language students end up studying Japanese in traditional foreign language classes in K-12 schools (see Kondo 1998b).

Interest in heritage language students of Japanese is growing (e.g., see Association of Teachers of Japanese 2000 and Kono 1999). Indeed, a number of recent studies have investigated the language development of heritage students of Japanese from various perspectives such as language maintenance (Kondo 1998a; Usui 1996, 1997), acculturation process and identity development (Kondo-Brown 2000; Oketani 1997a, 1997b; Sugita 2000), motivation (Kondo 1999; Kondo-Brown 2001), assessment (Cana- dian Association for Japanese Language Education 2000), curriculum development (Nakajima 1988; Nakajima and Suzuki 1997), web-based instructional material development (Douglas 2000), and language policy (Kondo 1998b). However, at this time, very little research has examined heritage language students' learning experiences in traditional foreign language classes. The academic advantages of taking high-school Japanese among college students of Japanese in North America have been reported (Watt 1997), but we still do not know whether traditional high-school Japanese classes are contributing to heritage language students' Japanese language proficiency.

2. Purpose

The purpose of the present study is to examine the relationship between traditional high-school foreign language study and the proficiency of her- itage language students of Japanese by analyzing the relationships between the number of years of high-school Japanese and the levels of receptive and written-productive skills among heritage and non-heritage language students. Such an investigation may provide preliminary evidence of any problems experienced by heritage language students of Japanese in tra- ditional foreign language classes. To that end, this study will address the following research questions:

  1. To what degree is the number of years of traditional high-school Japanese related to students' demonstrated receptive and written- productive skills among non-heritage language students?
  2. To what degree is the number of years of traditional high-school Japanese related to students' demonstrated receptive and written- productive skills among heritage language students?
  3. What are the implications for future research in teaching Japanese as a heritage language?

3. Method

The primary data for the present study were the multiple-choice and essay placement test scores of incoming students of Japanese at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa (UHM) in 1998 and 1999 (see Kondo- Brown and Brown 2000). Heritage language students in this study are defined narrowly as those who have at least one native Japanese-speaking parent. Non-heritage language students are those who do not have a native Japanese-speaking parent. The students' parental background was obtained through the background information sheets that the students filled out during the placement test.

3.1. Materials: The Japanese Placement Test at UHM

Incoming students of Japanese at UHM must take the multiple-choice Japanese placement battery, which consists of three tests (listening, grammar, and kanalkanji recognition), if they wish to be placed in a class other than the first-semester Japanese (JPN 101). In 1998 and 1999, 1,306 students took the Japanese placement test at UHM. The listening comprehension test had 14 items, the grammar test had 70, and the kana/ kanji recognition test had 50. In all three tests, the multiple-choice items included four options (one correct answer and three distractors).

In the listening section, students listened to six prompts (five conver- sations and one narrative) on an audiotape in Japanese. Each prompt was read three times, and the students answered the questions, which were written in English. In the grammar section, all questions were written both in kana and in romanization so that students could answer questions either way. The grammar items were designed to test the syntactic and morphological rules of the Japanese language (one exception was a question that tested a lexical rule of keigo 'honorific language'). In the recognition section, ten questions were about kana-word spelling and 40 questions asked students to identify the meanings of words written in kanji.

Incoming students of Japanese who chose to take the placement test could also write an essay to demonstrate their proficiency in Japanese. There were three prompts to choose from for the essay writing. These prompts were all descriptive in nature:

Prompt 1 : Describe how you like to spend your vacation.

Prompt 2: Describe yourself, your background, and your family.

Prompt 3: Describe Hawaii to a friend in Japan.

In 1998 and 1999, a total of 428 students wrote an essay. Among them, 78 chose prompt 1, 253 prompt 2, and 83 prompt 3. For a larger research project on the Japanese placement test at UHM, the following procedures were used to assure an equal and maximum number of essays for each prompt: (a) all essays written by heritage language students were rated because the number of these students was much smaller than the number of non-heritage language students; and (b) in order to make the sample sizes for each prompt equal, 78 (the number for the least popular prompt) were randomly selected from the compositions for each of the other prompts.

Each of the resulting 234 essays (78 essays x 3 topics) was scored by three raters who were all experienced Japanese language instructors at UHM. Using a modified version of Jacobs et al.'s (1981) essay scoring sheet, student essays were scored in five categories: content, organization, vocabulary, language use, and mechanics (see Kondo-Brown and Brown 2000).* Each subscore ranged from 7 to 20 possible points. The raters received training in the scoring procedures on the actual day of scoring. Each was instructed to rate the entire set of 234 essays under the same condition in two days, starting with one prompt, then moving to the sec- ond prompt, and finally the third.

3.2. Participants

In order to control for potential external variables that might affect the results of the study, the multiple-choice test scores and essay scores were taken only from those students who satisfied all of the following conditions:

  1. They had not studied Japanese in other institutions such as other universities, community colleges, or Japanese language schools.
  2. They had not lived in Japan.
  3. They were native speakers of English.
  4. They were undergraduate students.

As a result of this sample selection process, 642 students' scores (585 non-heritage and 57 heritage) were chosen for the multiple-choice tests, and 156 students' scores (131 non-heritage and 25 heritage) for the essay test. More than 95% of these undergraduate students were either established university freshmen or incoming freshmen. Table 1 indicates the number of students in the heritage and non-heritage groups who had studied dif- ferent numbers of years of high-school Japanese.

Table 1. Number of Samples Number of years of

high-schoolJapanese 0 1 2 3 4 5 6
Multi~le-choice test             Total
Heritage students 2 1 8 1 5 2 3 3 557
Non-heritage students 0 10 112 166 210 62 25 585
I Essav test               I Total 1
Heritage students 0 0   3   3 1 4 2   3 2 5
Non-heritage students 0 2   18   27 55   17     12   131

Table 2 indicates that the reliability estimates (estimated using Kuder- Richardson formula 20) for the multiple-choice test for both the heritage and non-heritage groups were moderate in listening, and high or very high in grammar and kanakanji recognition. For example, the grammar

subtest for the heritage group was highly reliable with a reliability estimate of .976, meaning that the test was 97.6% reliable.

Table 2. Reliabilities of Scores on Multiple-Choice Test

Non-heritage Heritage Total
(n=585) (n=57) (N=642)
Listening    
(14 items) .745 ,847 ,770
Grammar      
(70 items) .904 .976 ,934
Kanjikana recognition    
(50 items) ,925 .942 .928

Table 3 indicates that the interrater correlations of ratings on the essay test for the heritage and non-heritage groups ranged from moderately high to very high.

Table 3. Interrater Correlations of Subscores on Essay Test

Non-heritage Heritage

(n=131) (n=25)

r12 .821 ,932 .850
Content rz~ .847 .881 .859
  r13 .805 .912 .828
r12 .8 12 .955 242
Organization r23 .794 .904 .822
  113 .738 .929 .777
r12 246 .930 ,868
Vocabulary r23 .832 ,885 .849
  r13 .825 .933 .85 1
r12 .8 13 .923 239
Language use r23 .769 .880 .799
  1-12 .769 .857 .793
r12 ,844 .960 .86 1
Mechanics r~3 ,846 240 ,847
  1-13 334 330 .835

The number of years of high-school Japanese for each student was cal- culated based on that student's self-report on the background information sheet filled in at the time of the placement test. This variable is the total number of years of taking Japanese in both junior and senior high schools.

4. Results

4.1. The Multiple-Choice Test

Figures 1 and 2 are visual representations of the relationships between the total scores on the multiple-choice test and the number of years of high-school Japanese for non-heritage and heritage language students, respectively. While the scatterplot shown in Figure 1 seems to loosely form a positive linear relationship, the scatterplot shown in Figure 2 does not form any such relationship. In order to explore the degree to which the total scores on the multiple-choice test and the years of high-school Japanese vary together for non-heritage and heritage students, respectively, a Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient between these two factors was calculated for each group. It turned out that, while the correlation coefficient for the non-heritage group indicates a moderate positive relationship (r=.639, p=.0005), the correlation coefficient for the heritage group indicates no significant relationship at all (r=.076,p=.283). The coefficient of determination calculated for the non-heritage group indicates that about 40% (?=.6392-.40) of the variance in the total scores on the multiple-choice test was accounted for by the number of years of high-school Japanese.

-120 . V)     A A
a,c. a,.g 100 . i= 8-n 80 ..c. -i c 60 ,0- A A A AA A A A f f A AA A iAi A 4 :f f
V)      
c.-0n 40. * m -FZOm A f : Al:li  
    A  
0      
ci r 2 5 4 5 6 f

Years of high-school Japanese

Figure 1. Relationship between total points on the multiple-choice test and years of high-school Japanese amongnon-heritage students

Years of high-school Japanese Figure 2. Relationship between total points on the multiple-choice test and years of high-school Japanese among heritage students

Table 4 shows the means and standard deviations for the scores on each of the multiple-choice subtests and the total points combined among non-heritage language students who had studied high-school Japanese for one or two years (n =122), three years (n =166), four years (rz =2 1O), five years (rz=62), and six years (n=25).3

Table 4. Means and standard deviations for multiple-choice subtests and total points combined among non-heritage students with different years of high-school Japanese

Subtests 1 1-2 years (11122) M SD   3 years (n166) M SD   4 years (n210) M SD 1 5 years (11=62) M SD 1 6 years (11=25)M SD
Listening (14 pts) I 5.6 2.4 1 6.1 2.6 1 7.7 2.7 1 8.9 3.1 / 11.6 2.4
Recognition I   1       I   1  
(50 pts) Total points I(l34 pts) 1 12.6 33.5 5.2 11.   17.1 42.2 7.3 14.5 1 22.6 55.9 6.7 16.1 1 26.5 65.6 7.9 22.0 / 34.6 90.5 8.8 24.1 (

Figure 3 is a visual representation of the means of the same three sets of test scores.

0

1-2 yrs 3 yrs 4 yrs 5 yrs 6 yrs

Years of high-school Japanese

Figure 3. Comparisons of multiple-choice test means among non-heritage students with different years of high school Japanese

Table 4 and Figure 3 clearly indicate that the means for all three subtests increase as the number of years of high-school Japanese increases for the non-heritage language students. In order to investigate whether these mean differences were significant, an overall one-way ANOVA was con- ducted for each set of test scores. Because a total of 16 ANOVAs (one each for the three multiple-choice subtests and five essay subscores for each of the two groups, heritage and non-heritage) were used in the present study, a Bonferroni adjustment was used @/16=.05/16-.003) in order to maintain an experiment-wise alpha of approximately .05.

The overall one-way ANOVAs revealed significant overall differences in means among high-school Japanese year groupings for all three subtests, namely, listening (F=43.64, p=.003, df=4), grammar (F=81.26, p=.003, df-4), and recognition (F=94.09, p=.003, df-4). Scheffd post-hoc compar- isons were used to analyze each possible pair of means within each sub- test. The results of the Scheffe post-hoc comparisons, shown in Table 5, indicate that the difference in almost every pair of means was statistically significant (the only four exceptions were in the listening and grammar tests). In other words, on average, non-heritage language students who took more years of high-school Japanese demonstrated significantly better receptive skills on the three multiple-choice subtests of Japanese.

Table 5. Results of Scheffe post-hoc comparisons (non-heritage students; L=listening, G=grammar, R=recognition)

1-2 yrs 3 yrs 4 yrs 5 yrs
I 3 vrs L G      
  R*      
  L* L*    
4 yrs G* G*    
  R* R*    
  L* L* L  
5 yrs G* G* G  
  R* R* R*  

*mean difference significant at pC.003

Table 6 shows the means and standard deviations for the total scores on each of the multiple-choice subtests and the total points combined among heritage language students who had studied high-school Japanese for two years or less (11=1 I): three years (n=15), four years (n=23):and five-six years (t1=8).~

Table 6. Means and standard deviations for multiple-choice subtests and total points combined among heritage students with different years of high-school Japanese

Figure 4 is a visual representation of the means of the same these sets of scores. As Table 6 and Figure 4 show, the means of the test scores do not

Figure 3 is a visual representation of the means of the same three sets of test scores.

0

1-2 yrs 3 yrs 4 yrs 5 yrs 6 yrs

Years of high-school Japanese

Figure 3. Comparisons of multiple-choice test means among non-heritage students with different years of high school Japanese

Table 4 and Figure 3 clearly indicate that the means for all three subtests increase as the number of years of high-school Japanese increases for the non-heritage language students. In order to investigate whether these mean differences were significant, an overall one-way ANOVA was con- ducted for each set of test scores. Because a total of 16 ANOVAs (one each for the three multiple-choice subtests and five essay subscores for each of the two groups, heritage and non-heritage) were used in the present study, a Bonferroni adjustment was used @/16=.05/16-.003) in order to maintain an experiment-wise alpha of approximately .05.

The overall one-way ANOVAs revealed significant overall differences in means among high-school Japanese year groupings for all three subtests, namely, listening (F=43.64, p=.003, df=4), grammar (F=8 1.26, p=.003, df-4), and recognition (F=94.09, p=.003, df-4). Scheffe post-hoc compar- isons were used to analyze each possible pair of means within each sub- test. The results of the Scheffe post-hoc comparisons, shown in Table 5, indicate that the difference in almost every pair of means was statistically significant (the only four exceptions were in the listening and grammar tests). In other words, on average, non-heritage language students who took more years of high-school Japanese demonstrated significantly better receptive skills on the three multiple-choice subtests of Japanese.

Years of high-school Japanese

Figure 5. Relationship between total essay scores and years of high-school Japanese among non-heritage students

Years of high-school Japanese

Figure 6. Relationship between total essay scores and years of high-school Japanese among heritage students

Table 7 shows the means and standard deviations of subscores and total scores on the essay test among non-heritage language students who had studied high-school Japanese for one or two years (n=20),three years (n=27),four years (n=55),five years (n=17),and six years (n=l2).'

Table 7. Means and standard deviations for essay test subscores among non-heritage students with different years of high-school Japanese

Lang. Use
(20 ~ts) 11.8 2.0 12.6 2.3 14.0 1.4 14.3 2.1 15.2 1.7
Mechanics                    
(20 ~ts) 12.4 1.8 12.7 2.1 14.1 1.3 14.7 1.7 15.1 1.3
Total points                    
(100 pts) 59.0 9.3 62.2 11.7 69.3 7.7 72.1 10.7 76.0 9.2

17 16

15

14 2 13

z 12

11

+organization loi / + vocabulary 1

i I +language use 1 fji --)t-mechanics

' I-2yrs ' 3 yrs 4 yrs 5 yrs 6 yrs Years of high-school Japanese

Figure 7. Comparisons of essay test means among non-heritage students with different years of high-school Japanese

Figure 7 is a visual representation of the means of these subscores. Table 7 and Figure 7 indicate that the means of all subscores increase as the number of years of high-school Japanese increases for non-heritage lan- guage students. In order to investigate whether these mean differences between year groupings were significant, overall one-way ANOVAs were conducted for each of the five subscores. These ANOVAs revealed signif- icant differences in means among high-school Japanese year groupings as follows: content (F=8.86,p=.003, df=4), organization (F=8.82,p =.003, df-4), vocabulary (F=9.3 l,p=.003, df=4), language use (F=10.27,p=.003, df-4), and mechanics (F=10.28,p=.003, df=4). The results of the Scheffe post-hoc comparisons, shown in Table 8, indicate that: the differences in means (for some or all of the subscores) between one or two years and four, five, or six years were statistically significant; the differences in means for content and mechanics between three and six years were also statistically significant; and no other post-hoc comparisons were statisti- cally significant.

Table 8. Results of Scheffe post-hoc comparisons (non-heritage students; C= content, O=organization, V=vocabulary, L=language use, M=me-

chanics)
1-2 yrs 3 yrs 4 yrs 5 yrs
C    
0    
3 yrs V    
  L    
  M    
  C C    
  0 0    
4 yrs V* L* V L     * mean difference significant
  M* M     atp<.OO3
  C C C    
  0 0 0    
5 yrs V V V    
  L* L L    
  M* M M    
  C* C* C C  
  o* 0 0 0  

6 yrs V* V V V L* L L L

M* M* M M

Table 9 shows the means and standard deviations of subscores and total scores on the essay test among heritage language students who studied high-school Japanese for two or three years (n=6), four years (n=14),and five or six years (n=5).6

Table 9. Means and standard deviations for essay test subscores among
heritage students with different years of high-school Japanese

14

H 12

11 - +organization

10 -+vocabulary 9

+language use 8 -*mechanics 7' 2-3 yrs 4 yrs 5-6 yrs Years of high-school Japanese

Figure 8. Comparisons of essay test means among heritage students with different years of high-school Japanese

Figure 8 is a visual representation of the subscore means. Table 9 and Figure 8 show that the means of essay subscores increase slightly as the number of years of high-school Japanese increases for heritage language students. In order to explore whether these mean differences were statisti- cally significant, overall one-way ANOVAs were conducted for each of the five sets of subscores. These ANOVAs revealed no significant overall differences in means for high-school Japanese year groupings as follows: content (F=1.56, p =.232, df-2), organization (F=.987, p =.389, df-2), vocabulary (F=1.598, p=.225, df=2), language use (F=.853, p=.440, df=2), and mechanics (F=1.214, p=.316, df-2). In other words, as in the case of receptive skills, the number of years of high-school Japanese apparently has no significant relationship with written-productive skills in Japanese for heritage language students.

5. Discussion

The results of this study indicate that the number of years of high-school Japanese is more or less positively correlated with the levels of receptive and written-productive skills for non-heritage language students, but that it has no detectable relationship with the receptive or written-productive skills for heritage language students. Since this study is not a longitudinal study that keeps track of the language development of the same students over a period of years, the observed mean increases of test scores among non-heritage language students should not necessarily be interpreted as the degree of student improvement in Japanese over time. Considering the high attrition rate among Japanese language learners (Jorden and Lambert 1991), it is possible that the gradual mean increases of test scores resulted because each year lower-achieving non-heritage students stopped taking Japanese and only higher-achieving students remained. Also, the students who took fewer years of Japanese may have spent more years between studying Japanese and taking the placement test, which may have influenced the present results. Whatever the causes of the mean differences, the results clearly suggest that the number of years of high-school Japanese is positively related to non-heritage language students' receptive and written-productive skills. In other words, for whatever reasons, non-heritage language students who took more years of high-school Japanese demonstrated better receptive and written- productive skills than those who studied it for fewer years.

In contrast, the number of years of high-school Japanese seems to have no relationship with heritage language students' levels of receptive and written-productive skills.' Because the n sizes for the heritage language groups are relatively small, these results should be interpreted cautiously and further investigation is recommended to confirm the present results. Nonetheless, it is astounding to see that there is no significant difference between any pair of means on the receptive and written-productive test scores among heritage language students' high-school Japanese year group- ings. One might argue that, while higher-achieving non-heritage language students tend to study more years of high-school Japanese, higher-achieving heritage language students tend to take high-school Japanese for shorter periods, which could have influenced the present results. However, this argument may not hold, given that, as shown in Figure 2, about an equal number of higher- and lower-achieving heritage language students are found in the various groupings based on years of high-school Japanese. Instead, I would argue that the lack of relationship between the number of years of high-school Japanese and the receptive and written-productive skills of heritage language students is due to the fact that most heritage language students do not "fit" in traditional high-school foreign language curricula. When high-school foreign language teachers have a small number of heritage students whose language behavior is different from the rest of the class, they may not have the time or training to deal with such stu- dents effectively. Another potential explanation for the present results is the inappropriate placement of heritage language students due to inaccurate or inappropriate placement procedures. It is possible that many heritage students may be misplaced and are therefore just wasting their time.

Other factors that may explain the lack of correlation between the number of years of high-school Japanese and heritage language students' Japanese proficiency may be social. For example, Kondo's (1998a) study illustrated how a heritage language learner of Japanese can be discouraged from learning high-school Japanese due to her classmates' antagonistic attitudes. One of the informants in the Kondo's study said:

In high school I wanted to take beginning Japanese but my classmates said, "Lori, how come you're taking this class! You know Japanese already, you know everything already." But it's not that I know everything, you know. I didn't go to Japanese language school and so I never learned how to read and write Japanese in school before. I felt discriminated against by my friends. I felt I was treated as part of a different group . . . like a person who just came from Japan. I sensed something like that. But they kept saying that. In the end, I couldn't stand it anymore and took a higher-level Japanese class. But even then, when my friends saw me talking to the Japanese teacher in Japanese, they said that I was showing off. I really hated it when they said that. So at school, you have to pretend you don't know Japanese, otherwise the classmates would tease you. (p. 382)

6. Implications: Future Research on Teaching Japanese as a Heritage Language

In a state like Hawai'i, heritage language learners from immigrant back- grounds who wish to study their home language in high school have no choice but to take traditional foreign language classes. Although there are many articles that lament the neglect of heritage language speakers in foreign language programs, to my knowledge, there are no empirical studies that investigate this issue among students of a less commonly taught language in the United States. The present study-the first investi- gation of its kind-provides preliminary evidence that, as long as such a system is perpetuated, formal education may not help heritage learners of Japanese improve their proficiency in their home language. Future studies are recommended to further investigate this issue at all levels of foreign language instruction. We need to gather more information on: how many heritage learners of Japanese are placed in what types of foreign language programs; what instruments and procedures are used in making placement decisions for these students; how heritage learners experience their foreign language classes academically and socially; and how teachers deal with heritage students in their foreign language classes.

At the same time, we need to consider the following options for the future of heritage language teaching in formal education. One option is to maintain the status quo and encourage heritage language students to seek other educational means to learn the language outside the mainstream educational system (e.g., attending a Japanese language school, having a Japanese tutor, etc.). However, research suggests that heritage language programs can only be successful if such programs are offered as part of the mainstream school curriculum and if the students perceive their school as validating the importance of their home languages (Tse 1998). A sec- ond option is to offer heritage language students special language courses as part of the mainstream foreign language curriculum. This could be done by offering special "magnet" programs that invite heritage language learners district-wide to attend centrally located schools. In order to achieve these options, we need more rigorous work on curriculum development, assessment, and teacher training in the area of teaching Japanese as a heritage language.

NOTES
  1. The data for this research are taken from a larger placement research project fbnded by the University of Hawai'i Educational Improvement Fund. I would like to express my special thanks to Dr. James Dean Brown for his helpful comments on an earlier version of this article.
  2. Translated versions of the Jacobs et al.'s (1981) writing profile have also been used elsewhere to measure students' Japanese writing proficiency as an L1 (e.g., Hirose and Sasaki 1994; Sasaki and Hirose 1999) or as an L2 (Pennington and So 1993).
  3. One and two years (n=122) were grouped together because the number of students in the one-year group was only ten.
  4. Zero, one, and two years (n=l 1) were grouped together because the number of such students was very small. Five and six years were grouped together for the same reason.
  5. One and two years (n=20) were grouped together because the number of students in the one-year group was only two.
  6. There were no students in the zero- and one-year groups. Two and three years were grouped together because the number of such students was very small. Five and six years were grouped together for the same reason.
  7. Note that these results would only be true when heritage language students are narrowly defined as those who have at least one native Japanese-speaking parent. The majority of students of Japanese at UHM are of Japanese ancestry (Iwai et al. 1999: 5); those of Japanese ancestry who do not have a native Japanese-speaking parent (e.g., third-, fourth-, or fifth- generation Japanese Americans) are distributed throughout the distribution of non-heritage lan- guage students' scores in the present study.
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