Maintaining Farsi as a Heritage Language in the United States: Exploring Persian Parents’ Attitudes, Efforts, and Challenges




Salahshoor, Maryam

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Many people who live in the United States speak languages other than English in their heritage communities. Although heritage language teaching takes place in different instructional settings such as public and private K-12 education and higher education, for many immigrant groups living in the United States, the maintenance of their heritage language and culture are the sole responsibility of their families. Heritage language research shows that immigrant parents value heritage language maintenance highly and wish their children to maintain their home language. However, many immigrants in the United States struggle with heritage language maintenance in the English dominant society. Members of these communities face challenges in their efforts to preserve their language and pass on their cultural and linguistic legacies to their children. In order to understand obstacles to maintaining heritage language in ethnic communities, it is necessary to examine the issues that each community faces in preserving their language. Much research addresses the nature of heritage language learning in other ethnic communities, however, the research on Iranian-American heritage language (Farsi) learning or maintenance is scarce within the U.S. context. Using a qualitative lens for inquiry, this study explored Iranian-American parents’ perspectives and attitudes about Farsi as their heritage language in the Washington DC metropolitan area. This work focused on parents’ attitudes and goals for maintaining the heritage language and the nature of their language maintenance experiences and difficulties they encountered. Data were collected through parents’ responses to a demographic questionnaire and interviews, classroom observations, and a semester-long reflection journal.



Language, Foreign language education, Farsi as a Heritage Language, Heritage Language, Heritage Language Maintenance, Less commonly taught languages maintenance, Minority Language Maintenance, Persian Heritage Language