She is a Professor of Spanish Linguistics at Indiana University. Her interests include research and pedagogy of Spanish as a heritage language, sociolinguistics, critical language awareness, and Spanish in the USA. She focuses on promoting the use of Spanish in the USA and linguistic empowerment. Her research also extends to morphosyntactic variation in Peruvian and Ecuadorian Spanish.
Experiences in the Classroom of Spanish as a Heritage Language and Critical Linguistic Awareness
The Hispanic/Latino population is the fastest-growing ethnic group in the U.S., with 50.7 million in 2010 and 62.1 million in 2020 (Pew Hispanic Center, 2020). The increase in this population has led to greater attention and dedication to Spanish heritage language (SHL) speakers, especially in language departments. These students grow up in households where Spanish is spoken, while English is the dominant language of society. The student may speak or understand the heritage language and can be, to some extent, bilingual in English and the heritage language (Valdés, 2001). Based on the experiences of these students, educators and researchers have identified more effective goals for SHL speakers (e.g., Aparicio 1997; Beaudrie, Ducar & Potowski, 2014; Valdeìs, Lozano, & Garcia-Moya, 1981, Valdés 1995, 2005). While pedagogical approaches have evolved over the years, more recently, critical pedagogies have been adopted in the SHL classroom. Critical linguistic awareness focuses on creating conversations that analyze sociopolitical and sociohistorical factors to understand the (mis)use of a language, as well as social topics such as linguistic ideologies and linguistic (dis)prestige associated with the linguistic variety of Spanish. This approach provides students with tools to critically understand their variety as well as other varieties to defend their use of Spanish and promote the maintenance of the language and linguistic vitality of Spanish in the U.S. In this presentation, I will showcase prominent themes expressed by SHL speakers after their first-time experience in a university-level SHL course, emphasizing the importance of critical approaches within these courses.