Vitality of Heritage Languages and Education

The Case of Modern Greek in Canada
Living reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


One of the concerns of minority/immigrant communities and their members is to maintain their heritage through the intergenerational transmission of their language and culture. Such a process involves not both family language planning and heritage language education (HLE). This chapter examines the vitality of community languages using the Greek language in Canada as a case study. The role of the community in promoting and sustaining heritage language education is the main focus of this study which includes a theoretical and an empirical part. In the first part, we explore the phenomena of language shift and language maintenance and examine parameters that affect the ethnolinguistic vitality of minority groups, such as institutional support through education. In the empirical part, we analyze research findings related to educational needs and challenges of HL learners and teachers. The study shows that in order to overcome social and educational barriers in promoting the teaching and learning of Greek as well as all community languages in Canada, there has to be a systematic attempt by community and other stakeholders to improve the motivation of teachers and learners and modernize the curricula of heritage language programs.


Language and culture in education Heritage languages Language maintenance Community-based research in education Ethnolinguistic vitality 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CERES-Munk School of Global Affairs and Public PolicyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of Languages, Literatures and LinguisticsYork UniversityTorontoCanada

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