Forget 'foreign' languages; More colleges opt for classes targeting heritage learners

One in five American children lives in a home where English isn't the sole language, but while these kids may chitchat in their families' native languages, they're often stuck when it comes to writing much beyond a grocery list. For years, educators didn't know what to do with these students who snoozed through basic language classes or drowned in more advanced ones — if their native language was offered at all.

Today, colleges nationwide are tailoring new programs for these students. Heritage Spanish classes in particular have bloomed across the Southwest, California and in Florida. Programs in Texas and Ohio focus exclusively on medical terms for heritage speakers. Harvard University added a heritage Spanish class this fall. Other popular heritage language programs include Russian, Chinese and Korean.