Educational Administration, Department of


First Advisor

Marilyn Grady

Date of this Version



Nan Wang (2017) Heritage Language Schools in the U.S.: Administration, Sustainability and School Operations. PhD diss. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Educational Studies (Educational Leadership and Higher Education). Under the Supervision of Professor Marilyn Grady. Lincoln, Nebraska: October, 2017

Copyright (c) 2017 Nan Wang


The Heritage Language School (HLS) is a unique type of non-governmental educational organization in the U.S. It was first established in the 1880s by immigrants, who wanted to pursue freedom and wealth in the U.S. As those descendants melt into U.S. culture over generations, the Heritage Language School undertakes the responsibility to connect immigrants’ descendants with their heritage cultures and languages. The sustainability of heritage language schools affects the sustainability of heritage cultures in the U.S. Now heritage language schools flourish in all states in the U.S. To approach sustainability, administration in heritage language schools encounters various challenges. With limited previous study of heritage language school sustainability, the study, as an exploratory study, employs Mixed-Methods Research (MMR) to explore the factors affecting heritage language school sustainability from an administrative perspective. The study unfolded results through three research questions, which guided the entire study: What is heritage language school sustainability? Whether the four variables: administration, teacher professionalism, funding, and public support significantly affect sustainability, and if so, how? How can the findings of this study apply to the practice? The study solicits quantitative data from eighty-eight respondents in 21 states and qualitative data from twenty-three administrators of the 88 respondents from seventeen heritage language schools. It reveals that all four variables significantly affected heritage language school sustainability. By longitudinal analyzing the qualitative data, the study discovers the correlations between each dependent variable and heritage language school sustainability, and inter-correlations among the four variables. By the end of the study, it depicts a distinct picture of how to operate an existing or new established heritage language school in the U.S. to approaching sustainability.

Advisor: Marilyn L. Grady