The Heritage Language 2 Consortium (HL2C) was formally established in December 2017 when Lancaster University, the University of Lisbon, the University of Minho, NOVA University Lisbon, the University of Porto, Tübingen University, and the Camões Insitute, Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Lisbon (see our archive).

Our objectives:

The first objective of the Consortium is to promote research on heritage and second language learning in a variety of settings (from naturalistic development to classroom-based instruction) and across different age groups (children, adolescents and adults). The main focus is on the acquisition of Portuguese in multilingual settings, but the insights gained from Consortium projects are applicable to other languages, and we welcome colleagues and students who research other heritage or second languages.

Consortium projects involve leading researchers from a range of disciplines (theoretical linguistics, education, computational linguistics, cognitive psychology, language pedagogy, corpus linguistics, second language research) and a range of methodological approaches.

Our research helps us understand how children and adults learn new languages and identify those factors that make some of us particularly good language learners. Our second objective is to use these insights to improve language education. We do this, for example, by offering events with local schools and bilingual communities, Embassies and policy makers.

Why Portuguese as a heritage language?

Since the 1960s, millions of Portuguese citizens have left their country to seek better living conditions elsewhere. Currently, over 2,3M Portuguese – roughly a quarter of Portugal’s citizens – live abroad. The Portuguese State has recognized early on that the children of these migrants should have access to Portuguese language and culture, and thus established an extensive network of heritage language education that is unique in the world. The network is maintained by the Camões Institute, a branch of the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Qualified teachers are sent from Portugal in order to offer language classes based on the same frame of reference (based on the Common European Framework of Reference). The network currently covers over 70,000 students (children and adolescents) in 85 countries. Each country has a dedicated person to coordinate the network nationally. Typically, these coordinators are based at the Portuguese embassies.

The existence of a world-wide Portuguese heritage language network, in which instruction is coordinated centrally and in which thousands students are taught in accordance with the same framework, provides us with a unique opportunity in the domain of heritage language research.

Who we are and how to join us:

Please see our People page for more information.