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Can a child be fluent in a heritage language?

For starters, I will explain this common term – HERITAGE LANGUAGE. In Canada, it is usually used to refer to immigrant languages, highlighting that these are languages spoken mainly among family members – in contrast to official languages that are used everywhere. A HERITAGE SPEAKER in Canada is someone who grows up hearing a heritage language from parents and English from other people. Naturally, they spend more time speaking English than the heritage language, at least since they start school. And it often happens that they speak heritage language not so well. In scientific literature, the term HERITAGE SPEAKER usually implies incomplete knowledge of a heritage language. People who are fluent in a heritage language are simply called fluent bilinguals. I’m not quite happy about this term (though I use it) because it is not fair to these fluent speakers of a heritage language.
I’ve seen a lot of variation in children’s and adults’ skills in their heritage language, from full or near-full fluency to complete forgetting and everything in between. And the majority is in between. Learning one language in childhood is effortless. What about learning two? Some parents take it for granted that their children’s Russian doesn’t sound quite like Russian. On the other hand, I met so many Russian-Canadian parents who are more optimistic, who want their children to speak Russian well, and who make efforts to achieve this. So who is right?
It’s obvious that achieving full fluency in a heritage language is not easy. The problem is not bilingualism by itself. Children can learn two languages. The problem is that heritage speakers are at risk of not getting enough exposure to the heritage language. This usually includes lack of schooling in the heritage language. For some parts of language knowledge, it’s not a big problem; for others, it is.
People whose kids don’t have enough, for example, sun exposure give them Vitamin D. So parents who want their child to speak the heritage language well also need to give something extra to their children. I remain optimistic, especially when hearing my kids’ and some of their friends’ fluent Russian. They make occasional errors, but they know how to say it right; these are more like slips of the tongue. They don’t know some rare words that they encounter in Russian books – but, hey, we keep learning new words throughout all our lives. I believe the answer is YES. But that Vitamin D for heritage language is a very complex concoction, and figuring out its recipe is quite a journey.