Innovation vs. Tradition in Language Education

A Case of Japanese Heritage Language Instruction in Chile

Authored by: Saeid Atoofi , Francisco Naranjo Escobar

The Routledge Handbook of Heritage Language Education

Print publication date:  February  2017
Online publication date:  March  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138845787
eBook ISBN: 9781315727974
Adobe ISBN: 9781317541530


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This chapter examines two Japanese schools in Santiago, Chile, that cater to preschool and elementary school children of Japanese background. Following Ekholm and Trier (1987) and Miles and Louis (1987), we examine the factors that contribute to the stability of these schools. In this sense, we do not approach institutionalization as the introduction of an innovation into an institution (as do Ekholm & Trier, 1987, p. 13), but rather take the establishment of these institutions in Chile as an innovation that was accomplished in the past and has continued for several years. With that in mind, we examine some of the factors that have contributed to this continuity, particularly those factors that bear on HL teaching and learning. Specifically, we focus on the “ideologies, values, and beliefs” (Ekholm & Trier, 1987, p. 21) of participants as they pertain to the curriculum and teaching approach used in the schools, as well as the ways in which they impact issues of legitimacy in the eyes of the parents. In terms of the students, we examine the relationship between legitimacy and issues of fit or appropriateness of instruction. Additionally, we consider the role that foreign governments and other external entities play in institutionalizing heritage language (HL) instruction and defining what it means to be a speaker of the HL.

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