“What is heritage? What is inheritance? The base language Proto-Indo-European, for the word heir or of heritage and inheritance is g’her, which is also the base root for go or walk. What has been your life path? What has been your history? And where are you going?“
What has been your history, your family history with regard to your practices — culture — and the language(s) you speak or spoke in the past? Has your history been celebrated? Supported? Forgotten? Surpressed? Separated from you?
I’m inviting you to ponder your heritage so as to celebrate your uniqueness. We all need you to be your unique self and contribute your unique perspective and experiences.
Plus you may know someone else, in your family, circle of friends or colleagues, in your community, that has a heritage that needs celebrating…maybe even rescuing! Our heritage gives us strength and the connectedness human beings need.
To help you to consider what and how you might enjoy, revive, strengthen, and share your heritage, I’ve invited Joy Peyton to provide us insights and invitations.
One invitation is to check out the Coalition for Community-Based Heritage Language Schools, of which Joy is one of the leaders. Find a school where you or someone you know can revive and enjoy a heritage language, or support a program, or start a school yourself!
Another invitation is to consider attending (virtually or in person) the annual conference of the Coalition: October 7-8, 2022 and/or October 13-14, 2023. [Conference Schedule] Joy describes well and fully the extraordinary learning and community of friends you can find there.
I invite you to learn more about heritage languages in the United States and around the world by accessing not only this podcast but previous ones.
Joy was my guest for Episode 24. Please check out her stories and insights there, and check out her biography and rich array of resources for you, too.
We also worked together “Heritage Month,” April 2022, Episodes 60, 61, 62, 63. Panelists from all over the world invite you in these podcasts to experiences insights, resources, and pathways for your life as they consider what opportunities and roles are played by those that take advantage of revitalizing, strengthening, and applying their heritage languages in their lives.
Find your path. Find your voice. Share your heritage with us. We shall be all the richer for it.
Enjoy the podcast.
Scroll down for full transcript.
Thank you for always focusing on the possibilities, opportunities and the power of language and what it can do for us individually - and collectively!
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0:00:00.2 Norah Jones: This week I invite you to celebrate your heritage. Actually, I hope that you will celebrate heritage all around us, but let’s focus on you for just a second, and let’s take a look at what is heritage? What is inheritance? The base language for the Western world’s array of languages for the most part is called Proto-Indo-European, the sound basis for the word heir or of heritage and inheritance is g’her, which is also the base root for go or walk. What has been your life path? What has been your history path? And where are you going?
0:00:53.4 Norah Jones: Now, I’m aware that some listening to this Podcast may not know their path from the past. My husband knows his family history down to when the first immigrants from England in this case and Wales came to North America back in the 1600s. My background includes my father not even knowing who his grandfather or great-grandparents were. He was born into poverty in a fishing village in Eastern Europe. War, the confusion of war, the destruction of war and refugee status, all conspired to have him lose his history and thus my understanding of my deep heritage, and yet I still have some.
0:01:54.2 Norah Jones: Some of you that are listening have no heritage that you know of, potentially because your history includes the enslavement of ancestors, the loss of the original family, any number of individual things that can create a sense for you when you look back on the path that you’ve walked of not knowing what exactly your heritage has been. But let’s also take a look at what path you’re walking on into the future, and what opportunity you would like to perhaps grasp and invite others to grasp. I called Joy Peyton. Joy Peyton is in the leadership of the National Coalition for Community-Based Heritage Language Schools. Those of you that have been listening to the Podcast, It’s About Language, will have noted that Joy was a solo guest for me in episode 24, and she was my partner in producing panels on Heritage Language in the United States and Around the World in episodes 60 through 63, a whole month about heritage languages in April of 2022. If you wish, I hope that you will, there are links on my website to these episodes, of course, and to the information about all of the organizations and heritage opportunities that the speakers on those panels, as well as Joy herself, offer.
0:03:39.7 Norah Jones: Also, you can learn more about Joy by accessing my website in that way. They’ve provided a lot of resources and links for you to be able to follow your path, your invitation to both pursue your past and your future. But for today, we’re going to stand at the crossroads of identity, looking back and looking forward. What do you see when you look back? Where might you be headed going forward? And in either case, be it past or future, to what are you being invited? Where in this Podcast, where in understanding your heritage might there be the affirmation that you can use to feel more fuller yourself? The support that you have needed in order to be able to enter into your full identity. The help an opportunity for you or someone you know to be able to reach the understanding of the fullness of the language, the culture, and the identity that is uniquely yours, and that you by offering to the world can help to make the world a stronger, better place. So let’s turn for just a few minutes and have a chat with Joy Peyton as we take a look at heritage and we take a look at some of the opportunities available to you and perhaps to those that you live with, your community members, students you teach, colleagues you work with, dear friends, and family.
0:05:31.0 Norah Jones: Let’s talk to Joy. Hi, I’m Norah Jones. Welcome to ‘It’s About Language.’ So what is language all about? Well, it’s about learning and sharing, opening doors and education, work and life. Language is about creating communities and creating boundaries. It’s all about the mystery of what makes us human. So our conversations will explore that mystery and the impact of what makes us human. It’s about language in life, it’s about language at work, it’s about language for fun. Welcome to the Podcast.
0:06:11.6 Norah Jones: Joy, it’s a delight to have you here again. And what I would like to do is say that some of the folks that are listening love language. They love the sounds. They love the idea of language. Maybe they’re folks that play with puns and jokes, and any number of things that we can do with language. But this specific time, what I would love to do, is have you define for people that may not understand the term Heritage Languages. What are Heritage Languages please?
0:06:48.9 Joy Peyton: Yeah, okay. Well, thanks for asking. For us, Heritage Languages are those that are spoken by an individual or a community. A language other than English, that they speak at home or in their community. You can call it a first language, a native language. Some people are not happy with the word heritage because to them, it sounds like we’re talking about the past. But we like the word heritage because it seems powerful to us. But it’s a language other than English that’s spoken in the home or the community. There are over 400 languages spoken in the United States. So those are Heritage Languages for the people who were born and grew up speaking them. Whether they were born here in the US or whether they came here from another country.
0:07:50.1 Norah Jones: And would this include indigenous folks of North America?
0:07:55.6 Joy Peyton: Yes. Yes. Thanks for asking that. Yes, it does. For us, it includes indigenous Native American languages. Yes, absolutely. Although, they don’t use that term. They use indigenous language, tribal language, Native American language. Those are the terms that they use. But yes, it’s the language that they speak.
0:08:28.3 Norah Jones: Thank you. And for those that are listening that have a language background that’s very close to them. Maybe they themselves just identify themselves as heritage language speakers because they have this non-English language in their personal life, or potentially in their parents, guardians… Parents’ background. How far back for those that are listening to this, how far back might people go in those who have immigrated at some point to North America. How far back might people that are listening say, “Oh, well, I have a heritage language then.” Could they go back multiple generations?
0:09:17.3 Joy Peyton: Oh, sure. And they might. Germans for example, started schools here… Heritage language schools in the United States at the founding of this country, or even before. So those schools have been here all that time. And yes, they can go back multiple generations. And the whole question of how proficient are you in the language? Is it your language if you are not highly proficient in it? Well, yes, it still is. And the levels of proficiency in the language and the levels of connection to the language vary significantly.
0:10:00.1 Norah Jones: Thank you very much. That helps because I’d like to… As you can see, cast a wide net for those who are listening to consider what kinds of heritage they have linguistically and culturally. And you’ve just opened a door for people to understand that their heritage language may be something that was lost recently, as far as their own proficiency or potentially generations ago, but that to understand it still exists in their lives is appropriate.
0:10:37.3 Joy Peyton: And that they could still connect with it if they wanted to. Joe Lo Bianco, and I’ve worked with him on this. He talks about capacity, which is proficiency, opportunity, and desire as three components of having a language that’s vital in a country. And he studied that significantly for Irish. But I think about it for an individual, that there’s a level of proficiency. And if you have a certain level of proficiency, it gives you more opportunities to use the language. Many more opportunities. But he says that proficiency or capacity he calls it, and opportunity are not enough, but you also need to have desire. And that is that that language has some meaning for you in your life. And if it does, then you might pursue it, you might wanna use it. But there are people in this country who have proficiency and opportunity, but they don’t have the desire to use the language.
0:11:50.3 Joy Peyton: And I will cite Surendra Gambhir, because he gave a talk once and he was talking about Hindi, and how difficult it is for many of them to keep Hindi alive. Now there are people who are working very hard at keeping Hindi alive in this country. But Surendra Gambhir, said, “Where English grows, nothing else grows.” And there are many Hindi speakers who prefer to use English.
0:12:17.8 Norah Jones: Interesting. So that capacity or proficiency, a person may… That is listening, may have some of that or none of that, or different degrees. Opportunity, and then desire. So let’s say that someone that’s listening has tapped on to at least one of those. You, Joy, work with the National Coalition of Community-based Heritage Language Schools. What can you say, either with relation to the coalition or to anything else that relates to sparking a person’s reconnection or increase connection with heritage language. In any of those three segments, either with the coalition, as I say, or in other directions, what would you encourage people to do?
0:13:21.0 Joy Peyton: Yeah, well, we, the coalition are trying to connect with all of the community-based heritage language schools. These are schools that are taught Saturday, Sunday, weekends. They’re often not recognized. They could be happening in a neighborhood and people don’t even realize it. I have community-based schools in my neighborhood and I didn’t realize it until the people told me. But they are very often founded or co-founded by people who came to this country and speak this language, and they’re parents and they want their children to connect, so they’re very, very interested in building capacity or proficiency of their children. And they want more than simply at home, they very often are speaking the language at home, but they also want their children to gain more, and so they start a school and they try their best to be very engaging. And some of these students, some of these schools, continue all the way through high school, and some of them have programs also for adults. And I have interviewed high school kids who did not have the opportunity to learn this language in their school, but by the time they’re in 10th grade… I interviewed a German student, by the time he was in 10th grade, he had already passed the exam that would allow him to attend a university in Germany.
0:14:56.8 Norah Jones: Wow.
0:14:57.5 Joy Peyton: So the capacity building, again, it varies. Sometimes some of the schools are only elementary schools, but many, many people try very hard to get the students to continue through middle school and high school, and many of them are successful at it. And with these schools, they are creating the opportunity for students to learn a language. I was in a meeting the other day, and we were looking at universities across the United States and the languages that were taught in different parts of the United States, and then we were looking at public and private schools across the United States and the languages that are taught. Where are there many languages being taught, where are very few languages being taught? But you know what we didn’t… Well, I mentioned it later.
0:15:54.2 Joy Peyton: What about community-based schools? They’re teaching Bulgarian, Lithuanian, Tamil, Hindi, Persian, Urdu, they have different names often, but… Well, and then the Native American schools too. They’re teaching these languages that you don’t have the opportunity in public, private school and university often to learn these languages. So they are providing the opportunity, and then as I said, they’re working very hard to create the desire to continue to learn the language. And one thing that we think about a lot is how do we promote engagement both of the students and of the parents in this initiative, and what kinds of activities do we do? And some of those to create desire are, to hold summer camps, to bring in people from the community to see, “Oh wow, these adults speak this language.” To have the adults say how they use the language, why they care about the language, so trying to build in all three areas.
0:17:06.4 Norah Jones: Beautifully described. Thank you so much.
0:17:14.8 Norah Jones: This week’s invitation to you is to consider how your heritage or those of others helps to illumine a path to hope in a challenging world. That’s my point of this Podcast series, and I can’t do it without sponsors and donors. This week, I’d like to do a special shout out to the Coalition for Community-Based Heritage Language Schools and to language educators who have provided donations. Thanks Eavan Mages, Isabel Tran, and Parthena Draggett for your support. Please consider yourselves invited to go to my website, fluency.consulting, and be a donor or a sponsor yourself. You’ll find on my website all those resources that we keep referring to, and again, please consider donation or sponsorship. I deeply appreciate it.
0:18:12.9 Norah Jones: Let’s say that listeners sparked by this description feel that they want to find out more about what’s already available, what opportunities are around them, where do they go? Where are there resources for them?
0:18:35.0 Joy Peyton: Thanks for asking that. They can go to the website and just type in Google, “Coalition of Community-Based Heritage Language Schools“. And on the left side, where it says Activities, you can click on that, you can sign up for our newsletter. We don’t send it out very often, only once or twice a month, but you can learn about what we’re doing. We have a conference that’s coming up, and through this conference, it’s coming up October 7th and 8th. The newsletter’s on the left hand side under About Us, About Us and then the newsletter. Under Activities, you can sign up to come to our conference, October 7th and 8th. That’s Friday and Saturday. Yeah, of course, if you’re not at FLAVA, and if you’re at FLAVA, you should stay at FLAVA. Under Activities, the first activity is the conference, you can register there. You can either come to American University in Washington DC and attend, or you can participate online.
0:19:35.9 Joy Peyton: There’s also a section on community-based schools, and there you can click on that, and it says, “Map of Schools,” and you can see where the schools that we have documented are located. And you can think, “Oh, I know of a Bulgarian school in such and such a place, and it’s not here.” And then you just go to Schools Survey and ask somebody to fill it out, and your school will be documented. There’s another initiative I’d like to mention. Also on the Coalition website, we have resources for educators, resources for parents. We have curricula and lessons, interesting articles that people will wanna read, we have a section on what different organizations are doing, who are heritage language organizations, and we have expanded now, so we connect with people around the world, and we’ve got organizations in Ireland, Iceland, Canada, Australia, then the other ones. So great connections. We have guidelines for community-based heritage language schools on our website.
0:20:48.5 Joy Peyton: Oh, also, there’s another thing. We have a section on language representatives. These are the leaders of their languages. So language representatives for all these languages I’ve mentioned, but also French, Spanish, Chinese. All the languages that we’re working with, we have somebody who… More than one person, in most cases, who is leading that effort. So if you wanna connect, you could look up the language representatives and connect with one of them in a language that you’re interested in. Or you can also look under About Us at the Coalition Core Team, and you can see who is leading this effort, seven of us. But there’s another place where… And this is an initiative started by Dick Brecht and a group of others, and it’s called America’s Language Initiative, and you can find that on site as well. Just type it in Google and it’ll come right out.
0:21:50.1 Joy Peyton: And when you go there, his desire is to make these schools visible and these languages visible. So community-based schools, Native American schools, schools that are teaching languages that people aren’t paying attention to, schools that are marginalized and ignored, he’s trying to bring all of these in. And so school leaders can go in there and document their school, and they ask great questions, and so you really learn a lot. And we have community-based schools documented there, and if a person was in a school, they could apply to be on it.
0:22:35.4 Norah Jones: So many opportunities at any level of interest, role and capacity here that you have mentioned, so people can go find schools if they themselves want to learn. Sounds like you spoke about resources, where if they wanted to start a school, if there wasn’t anything nearby them, they could find the people and the resources that could help them to do that. And certainly, if they’re already engaged in the language enterprise as it were, there are ways of looking at growing the capacity or the directions that they’re already working with with regard to heritage languages that they may not be currently engaged in. Have I stated some of those things correctly, Joy?
0:23:22.4 Joy Peyton: You did. You just made a fabulous summary of what people can do, yes. You can always write to me, firstname.lastname@example.org and say, “I’m interested in this, and this is what I want,” and then we’ll work it out together.
0:23:38.3 Norah Jones: Sounds fantastic. I would like to return for just a moment to the conference that’s up coming at the beginning of October here, the 7th and 8th of October of 2022. And this is an annual conference, is that correct?
0:23:54.0 Joy Peyton: Yes. Yes, it’s an annual conference. This is our ninth annual conference, and next year will be the 10th, and it will be October 13th and 14th.
0:24:03.0 Norah Jones: Excellent.
0:24:03.2 Joy Peyton: So we always have it in October.
0:24:05.4 Norah Jones: Alright. Excellent. 13th and 14th of 2023, 7th and 8th of 2022. And is it both virtual and a choice of being virtual or on-site in each case?
0:24:18.8 Joy Peyton: Yes. Yes, on-site, you come to American University on Massachusetts Avenue, and we’ll have… Friday night, after the conference, we’ll have a meet and greet at a restaurant where we can just casually eat, drink and get to know each other. And it starts noon on Friday, and it’s all day Saturday. And yes, you can also join online, and there are people who will be there. More people will be online than on-site because the world has changed. There will be people and there will be leaders who will be there on-site and also online.
0:24:56.3 Norah Jones: Here’s a question for you. Many of the people, but not all, that are listening to this podcast will know what a language conference or a conference about language education entails. For those who may not have yet attended a conference, could you provide a bit of a summary of what kind of experience they have, especially for those that would say, “Well, I think I’ll join virtually to get started so that I can learn about the things.” But what is a conference like this like?
0:25:39.4 Joy Peyton: Yeah, well, as I mentioned, we start at 12:00 noon on Friday, because many people work on Friday. We have a keynote speaker, and it’s going to be Ofelia Garcia. And she’s very well-known in the field, and she will be talking about language use in the classroom. And if you don’t know her, she does a lot of work on translanguaging, which is a topic that people are interested in, but many people in community-based schools are interested, but they don’t know how to do it. And so what is it, how do we do this? And she won’t start until late, I think, 4:30 or something on Friday, because people are working on Friday. And so we’re having an afternoon start, and the keynote speaker is late in the day. So we have a keynote speaker, and she’s going to not only talk, but she wants to interact with people. She says, “I have to have time to interact and I wanna talk with people.” So we’ll have a discussion. We’ll be facilitating both online and on-site. We have a panel, and Dick Brecht, who I just mentioned with America’s Languages Initiative, he’s gonna be talking about that, and what he calls the America’s languages portal, where those schools are posting.
0:27:03.1 Joy Peyton: He’s going to give a talk. Then the panel discussion is; The role of community-based schools in the national language landscape. He’s really interested in the national language landscape and where do community-based schools fit. So he’s going to talk about the portal and how community-based schools are there. Jim Cummins, who’s very well known, I’m sure many of you know him, he’s going to talk about doing powerful things with language and how heritage language schools and mainstream education can work together. And then once again… Oh, and then we have leaders of national organizations responding to their talks. So Celia Zamora from ACTFL, Amanda Seewald from JNCL-NCLIS, and Melissa Bowles from the National Heritage Language Research Center, they’re all going to respond to this talk. And then we have workshops. We have six workshops and they’re concurrent. Two at a time, so unfortunately, you’re gonna have to choose, but there will be recordings of all the workshops. And some of them will have breakout rooms, so that you can go and break out with the workshop presenters. Some of them just wanna discuss with everybody and don’t go to breakout room. So there’s a combination.
0:28:32.9 Joy Peyton: And then, on Saturday afternoon, right before the closing session, we have what we’re calling networking sessions. And these are opportunities for people to get together, both onsite and online, and this is something that people have requested from us for a long time, and just talk with each other about different topics like features of high quality instruction, successfully establishing and sustaining a community-based language school, how are assessments used? How are community-based schools doing? So there are opportunities to hear, to learn, to work in break out groups with people and to be in open discussion with people. And then we have a reception, and we have the meet and greet on Friday night. So we’re trying to give people the opportunity to do everything, [chuckle] so that they can learn and really connect.
0:29:33.1 Norah Jones: That’s wonderful. So there are connections, there are the sessions, there are the meet and greets, there are the key notes. A variety of wonderful opportunities there, whether it be virtual or face-to-face.
0:29:50.4 Joy Peyton: And I’ll say, if you sign up, if you register, you’re not required. You can come and go. You can come and go, if you’re online. You can come and go, if you’re there. You’re not trapped in it. And some people do, they come to what they want to and then come back.
0:30:03.8 Norah Jones: That’s wonderful to know. Thank you. Now, we’ve talked about the Coalition website, and people can connect up with you there too through the website as well. We’ve talked about the conference that’s up coming here in just a few weeks from the time of this podcast, and so that’s very timely. Is there anything else, before I leave you today with my thanks, that you would like to make sure that listeners know about heritage language, heritage language learning, culture, resources, anything else that they should say, “This I can now dive into with more clarity”?
0:30:56.4 Joy Peyton: Yeah, we also have webinars. Thanks for asking that, because we also have webinars, and we have one coming up at the end of October for school leaders, teachers and administrators, and then in December for parents. And it’s focused on using assessments effectively so that students’ proficiency can be documented and they can gain school credit for their language proficiency, and they can gain one of the seals of biliteracy. The State Seal of Biliteracy, the Global Seal of Biliteracy, and this is an award that they can earn when they graduate from high school. And this is very, very interesting to school leaders, interesting to parents and it’s very motivating for the students. So that will be an upcoming webinar. And we’re going to continue having webinars every couple of months. And if you sign up for our newsletter, you will get information about the webinars. And you also… We try to keep people informed of anything that is of interest to community-based school leaders. Anything that’s happening, webinars that other people are doing, books they’re writing, and we do that through our newsletter. So connecting with our newsletter is a really important thing.
0:32:16.9 Joy Peyton: And yeah, that’s really… Yeah, and then you’ll know. You’ll know everything we’re doing, and you’ll be able to be a part of it, ’cause we… Or if you wanna become a language representative, especially if you look on the webpage at language representatives, and you don’t see your language there, write to me and say, “Hey, I’d like to connect for my language,” because there are many languages that we’re not connected with in many schools. And so that’s about connecting with us. But just about the importance of heritage languages, I’ll say that in the 1990s, we started a heritage language conference with Dick Brecht, and Moriah Carrera and Donald Christian, and I collaborated on that, because we said, “We have got to start talking about heritage languages. We’re not. We’re calling students English language learners. We’re not even recognizing the languages that they speak.” So we had our first conference. We went many years focusing on heritage languages, and what we realized is that most of the focus was at the university level.
0:33:29.0 Joy Peyton: Why is that? Because the university people are doing research, they’re going to conferences. So we’d be at conferences and all the conversation about heritage languages was about students in the university. So we said, “Okay, we need to focus on community-based heritage language schools.” And I got together with Olga Kagan, some of you might know her, the director of the National Heritage Language Research Center at the time. The National Heritage Language Research Center was founded, and she and I said, “Oh my goodness, what do we do now?” ’cause we have The Alliance for the Advancement of Heritage Languages, she has that center. And we decided, we will focus on community-based schools, and they will focus on public on private schools and universities, and so that’s what we did. But now we work in partnership. They’re the ones who develop our website. They speak at our conference. Melissa Bowles, the current director, will be speaking at our conference. So the whole focus on community-based schools has evolved significantly since the 1990s, and it’s still evolving, and there’s a whole lot more work to do. So if you would like to join us, we would love to have you. Oh Norah, also, we did the four podcasts with you, about engaging students, advocating for these schools, two other topics.
0:35:06.4 Norah Jones: Opening doorways and opportunities, yes.
0:35:09.6 Joy Peyton: Opening doorways and opportunities. So definitely watch the podcasts on Norah’s… All you have to do, I learned Norah, is type “Heritage” into your website, and those podcasts come up.
0:35:22.4 Norah Jones: And that’s a as terrific, and thank you very much for that reference back to those four podcasts. April 2022 was Heritage Month. Thanks to Joy’s understanding, leadership, collaboration, and I just can’t say enough about the amazing panelists with, who happily included Joy each time, that we had for those four podcasts. So indeed, for a nice immersion experience, get into those four podcasts. But Joy, turning to you today, thank you so much for letting folks know about, again, what is heritage? Why should they be thinking about the possibilities in their own lives and in the lives of those they love? And what are some of the places that they can go for resources, experiences, fellowship, community, finding their superpower, and entering into that conversation fully? So thanks so much for your spending time with me today on this.
0:36:30.3 Joy Peyton: Well, thank you, Norah. Thank you for the opportunity to talk with you again. It’s always interesting to talk with you.
0:36:36.8 Norah Jones: It’s always interesting to be with you, my friend. And good luck with the preparations for the conference and for all of your work, and I look forward to us talking again soon.
0:36:47.6 Joy Peyton: Thank you. Thank you very much.
[music] 0:36:50.6 Norah Jones: Thanks so much for listening to this podcast, and I hope you felt invited to walk a path somewhere specifically about heritage language and culture. I look forward to providing more invitations to you in the coming weeks. Again, go to my website, fluency.consulting to find references to previous podcasts, biographies of various speakers, resources in all the areas of heritage languages and much, much more. And again, thank you for considering being a donor or a sponsor. Until next time.Become a Sponsor
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