You are cordially invited to the first of our distinguished speaker lectures this academic year at the Anglia Ruskin Research Centre for Intercultural and Multilingual Studies (ARRCIMS).

We are very honoured to have Naomi Nagy speak to us on one of her recent projects on cross-generational change in heritage languages in Toronto. To continue the theme of research on heritage languages, one of our PhD students, Kate Lightfoot will speak about her work on heritage French at UK schools. See below for the abstracts.

Naomi Nagy (University of Toronto, Canada) 

Cross-generational change in heritage languages in Toronto? 

The Heritage Language Variation and Change project (Nagy 2009, 2011) is based on intergenerational comparisons (i.e., how many generations since the family immigrated to Toronto?) of speakers in language diaspora in Toronto. I will discuss some differences between the results of experimental studies and our variationist sociolinguistic studies based on spontaneous speech. The focus will be on the picture we see of intergenerational differences, as well as differences between homeland vs. heritage varieties. In general, greater linguistic stability is illustrated by the variationist approach than experimental methods. The data are from studies of Voice Onset Time (VOT), case marking, and null subject pronoun variation (listed at The languages discussed include Cantonese, Faetar (a Francoprovençal variety spoken in southern Italy), Italian, Korean, Polish, Russian and Ukrainian. 


Nagy, N. 2009. Heritage Language Variation and Change in Toronto.    

Nagy, N. 2011. A multilingual corpus to explore geographic variation. Rassegna Italiana di Linguistica Applicata 43.1-2:65-84. 

See also  



Kate Lightfoot (Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK) 

UK language teachers’ experiences of teaching heritage speakers in the L2 classroom  

The UK is home to a large population of French speakers, and French is one of the most widely taught modern foreign languages at GCSE and A level (ONS, 2015; Tinsley, 2019). Despite this, little is known about the heritage speakers of French who participate in French lessons for foreign language learners at school. The phenomenon of teaching a ‘native’ speaker alongside L2 learners presents significant challenges for language teachers. Based on thematic analysis of survey and interview data, my presentation discusses teachers’ experiences of teaching French to heritage speakers, including: rewards and challenges; exam performance; teacher training, and examples of differentiation to accommodate heritage speakers in the classroom.  


Office for National Statistics, 2015. 2011 Census General Report for England and Wales. Newport: ONS.​ 

Tinsley, T. 2019. Language Trends 2019. London: British Council. ​ 

Calendar (black)

20 Oct 2020, 3:00 pm