The Roles of Attitude, Motivation, and Identity in Heritage Language Learning among Korean Americans

Grace Kong


Much research has been conducted on learning English as an additional language both in
the United States and around the world. However, there have been fewer studies focusing on
heritage language learners (HLLs) who have already acquired English as their native tongue and
are learning their heritage language as an L2, or second language (Joo, 2009). The rapidly
growing number of language minority individuals who have turned their attention towards
learning their heritage languages have led both secondary schools and universities to restructure
their foreign language classes in order to better address the needs of HLLs (Jensen & Llosa,
2007). Who exactly are HLLs, and what defines them as such? What makes HLLs different from
L2 learners? This paper will take a sociolinguistic and socio-psychological perspective on HLLs,
with a particular focus on Korean Americans in the United States. How do attitude, motivation,
and identity play a role in heritage language acquisition among Korean American learners? Do
these socio-psychological factors affect one another in the learning process? What are the
pedagogical implications for teachers and students?

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