Designing a syllabus exclusively for heritage language learners requires a thorough study of who the heritage learners are from the point of view of language pedagogy. A close observation of heritage learners from university level intermediate Tamil classes and community schools reveals heritage learners’ lack of knowledge of the formal aspects of language, including diglossia and dialects. Consequently, it is difficult for them to negotiate between their home dialect and the formal style that they learn in school. Any syllabus that targets the needs of heritage learners of Tamil, thus, should address appropriately how their prior knowledge of Tamil can be harnessed in a proper way, so that they can learn to easily switch between formal and informal forms of Tamil. This paper discusses a technologically sound language pedagogy that illustrates how the informal knowledge of Tamil that the heritage learners acquire from Heritage Language Environment (HLE) can be reactivated by supplementing it adequately with formal knowledge, so that heritage learners will gain confidence to participate in authentic speech situations.
This publication appeared in South Asia Language Pedagogy and Technology (SALPT) was published in 2008 by the South Asia Language Resource Center (SALRC) as a space to explore the creation and dissemination of new resources for teaching and research on South Asian languages, primarily via the World Wide Web, and pedagogical support for faculty through digital materials. The South Asia Language Resource Center (SALRC) was a collaborative effort funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education's International Education and Graduate Programs Service. The Language Resource Center at the University of Chicago was one of fifteen nationwide that exist to improve the capacity to teach and learn foreign languages effectively. SALRC primarily focused on the needs concerning South Asian language pedagogy in American universities.




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