Agreement Heritage Language: What It Is and Why It Matters
Agreement Heritage Language, or AHL, is a term used to describe the language spoken by bilingual individuals who have learned to speak two languages, but have been exposed to only one formally in a school setting. AHL is often spoken by immigrants or their descendants who continue to use their ancestral language at home, while using the majority language of their country in other contexts.
AHL has become an important topic in recent years, as more and more research has shown that heritage language maintenance is critical to the development of bilingualism and the preservation of linguistic diversity. Language is a core component of cultural heritage, and maintaining a connection to one`s ancestral language is seen as an important way to preserve the cultural identity and heritage of immigrant communities.
There are several reasons why AHL is important. First, it is a bridge between the immigrant community and the majority culture. Bilingual individuals who speak the majority language of their country fluently, but who also maintain their ancestral language skills, can play a crucial role in promoting cross-cultural understanding and facilitating communication between different communities.
Second, AHL can be a source of pride and identity for immigrants and their children. By maintaining their heritage language skills, they preserve a connection to their cultural roots and can pass on their cultural heritage to future generations.
Finally, research has shown that bilingualism can have cognitive benefits. Bilingual individuals are often better at multitasking, have improved executive function, and may even have a reduced risk of developing cognitive decline in later life.
However, there are also challenges to maintaining AHL. Immigrant communities often face pressure to assimilate to the majority culture, which can lead to a loss of heritage language skills over time. In addition, there is often a lack of formal language education available for heritage language learners, which can make it difficult for them to develop their skills beyond a basic level.
Overall, AHL is an important component of bilingualism and cultural heritage maintenance. It is important for stakeholders, including policymakers, educators, and community leaders, to recognize the value of AHL and work to promote its preservation and development. By doing so, we can help to create a more diverse and inclusive society, while also promoting bilingualism and the cognitive benefits that come with it.