Teaching the heritage language as a foreign language: on the questions of bilingualism and minority language teaching in Austria

  • Marta Csire
  • Johanna Laakso


Although Hungarians in Austria are an officially recognised ethnic minority, surprisingly little attention has been given tothe specific problems in teaching Hungarian as a heritage language.This paper focuses on the situation of heritage-language students who study Hungarian as part of a university curriculum in Vienna, together with German speakers. These students have learnt colloquial varieties of Hungarian as a spoken language in their families but typically have no formal training in the standard written language. This leads to learners’ errors which are often due to lacking language awareness: heritage-language students are unable to analyse their grammatical intuitions. It is also obvious that heritage-language students do not profit from traditional second-language teaching methods and material; furthermore, heterogeneous teaching groups rather create than solve problems. These issues, probably critical for an increasing group of multilingual speakers in many countries, call for more differentiated approaches to language planning and educational strategies.


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