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Language Education of Asian Migrant Students in North America  

Guofang Li, Zhongfeng Tian, and Huili Hong

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, media and education have devoted increasing attention to Asian students’ intensified experiences of anti-Asian racism. However, less attention has been devoted to their language and literacy development, which is central to their social and academic success in schooling. Situated within an expanded view of linguistic, cultural, racial, and economic diversity among Asian ethnic groups, studies in the past decade mainly address two areas—mainstream language education and heritage language (HL) education of K–12 Asian migrant students in North America. Research on mainstream language education reveals “hidden” achievement gaps among Asian subgroups and Asian learners’ continuous struggles with negotiating multiple intersecting language, culture, gender, and racial identities; racial profiling; and pathologizing actions from mainstream White educators and peers, arguing against the monolithic model minority stereotypes. The mis/missed-representation of Asian languages and cultures in the mainstream curriculum further reinforces the dominant deficit discourses against Asian learners in the classrooms. Studies on HL education mainly concentrate on three areas: parental support and involvement at home, community language schools, and world language and immersion programs in K–12 schools. While they each provide Asian students with great opportunities to maintain their cultural and linguistic heritage and to cultivate positive ethnic identities, challenges remain in finding innovative and effective ways to foster sustainable HL development and to develop critical consciousness among different stakeholders to combat racial injustices. There is an urgent need for both mainstream and HL educators to adopt critical pedagogies and create humanizing spaces to better serve Asian migrant students in North American K–12 classroom settings.