Dr. Shushan Karapetian Awarded Young Scholar Award in Heritage Language Education

Dr. Shushan Karapetian walking to the stage to receive the Young Scholar Award
Dr. Shushan Karapetian walking to the stage to receive the Young Scholar Award

Dr. Shushan Karapetian walking to the stage to receive the Young Scholar Award

LOS ANGELES—The National Heritage Language Resource Center at UCLA hosts an International Conference on Heritage/Community Languages every four years, during which the Russ Campbell Young Scholar Award in Heritage Language Education is presented. The award was established in 2014 in honor of Professor Russell Campbell, whose work was instrumental in launching the field of Heritage Language Studies. The aim of the award is to recognize outstanding scholarship by two individuals who are currently working on a dissertation, or who have filed one within the last five years, that focuses on topics related to heritage language. The award is accompanied by a $500 prize.

On February 16, during the Third International Conference on Heritage/Community Languages at UCLA, Dr. Shushan Karapetian was announced as the first winner of the Russ Campbell Young Scholar Award in Heritage Language Education for her work on Armenian heritage language speakers. The second winner was Dr. Marta McCabe from Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic for her work on Czech and Slovak languages in the U.S. context. The selection committee, comprised of several blind reviewers, received submissions from various disciplines, including sociolinguistics, linguistics, and pedagogy, covering a wide range of languages such as Armenian, Chickasaw, Chinese, Cornish, Czech and Slovak, Greek, Korean, Persian, Spanish, and Russian. In regard to Dr. Karapetian’s submission on heritage language anxiety and the debilitating impact of its manifestation on heritage language development and maintenance among Armenian heritage language speakers, one of the reviewers said: “This was a really strong paper that looked at the anxieties of Armenian heritage language speakers and how that maps on to anxieties of belonging. The discussion of the psychological aspect of heritage language learning, namely, the effects of shaming is crucial and insufficiently addressed in the field.”

Dr. Karapetian received a PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures from UCLA in 2014, where she has taught Armenian Studies courses over the past eight years. Her dissertation, “‘How Do I Teach My Kids My Broken Armenian?’: A Study of Eastern Armenian Heritage Language Speakers in Los Angeles,” received the Society for Armenian Studies Distinguished Dissertation Award for 2011-2014. Based on her doctoral thesis, she has developed and is currently teaching an entirely new course entitled Language in Diaspora: Armenian as a Heritage Language, which has now become a part of the Armenian Studies curriculum at UCLA. Her research interests focus on heritage languages and speakers, particularly on the case of Armenian heritage speakers in the Los Angeles community, on which she has presented and lectured widely. Dr. Karapetian also holds a position with the Center for World Languages at UCLA, where she is Program Director of the Center’s High School Heritage Program, which offers language classes for heritage speakers of Armenian, Russian, Persian, Korean, and Japanese. She is currently serving on multiple committees both in the local Los Angeles and global diasporic Armenian communities aimed at reforming Armenian language instruction and promoting the use of the Armenian language.

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