Community-based heritage language schools are typically non-profit organizations founded and operated by parents from the respective immigrant or heritage language community for the purpose of maintaining and teaching the language and culture of their heritage. The language is usually (but not always) spoken in the home or the community. These schools might offer classes for learners from PreK – Grade 12 as well as for adults. In many schools, non-heritage language speakers are welcome as well. Classes take place on weekends or after school, and some run summer camps in addition to classes during the school year.
Although these schools often rent space on public or private school premises on weekends or after school during the week, they operate outside the public and private school systems. They supplement the education that students receive in their regular schools and are not subject to the regulations of the U.S. education system. To document students’ proficiency levels, the schools administer U.S. language tests and often tests used in the home country as well, if appropriate assessments exist and are available. Many also use the Seal of Biliteracy and the Global Seal to recognize students’ language proficiency levels.