Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics

Editor-in-Chief: Face, Timothy L.

See all formats and pricing
More options …

From pedagogy to communities: Issues within and beyond the Spanish heritage language classroom

Dalia Magaña
Published Online: 2015-08-25 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/shll-2015-0014


Research on Spanish heritage language pedagogy has flourished in the past few decades, revealing both challenges and successful models to address them. The discussion here will focus on some of these major challenges and models, specifically, heritage language assessment, language variety validation, biliteracy approaches, and connections beyond the classroom. Students enroll in heritage language courses to develop their language repertoires and to become better prepared for professional opportunities that require formal uses of Spanish. However, one of the problems that heritage language instructors may face is guiding learners to develop biliteracy skills while also validating students’ language varieties. Heritage language learners frequently enter the classroom with feelings of inferiority about their language use either because their variety is stigmatized (e.g., they speak a rural variety), their Spanish is limited to oral/informal registers and/or their Spanish has English language influence. For these reasons, instructors’ role in empowering students and their language use is particularly crucial. Heritage language classrooms are also ideal for establishing stronger connections with local communities and professional sectors where Spanish is in demand (e.g., health care).

Keywords: heritage language; pedagogy; community connections


  • Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies. http://www.ahaa.org/ (accessed November 5, 2014).

  • Achugar, Mariana. 2003. Academic registers in Spanish in the U.S.: A study of oral texts produced by bilingual speakers in a university graduate program. In Ana Roca & Maria Cecilia Colombi (eds.), Mi lengua: Spanish as a heritage language in the United States, 213–234. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.Google Scholar

  • Achugar, Mariana & María Cecilia Colombi. 2008. Systemic functional explorations into the longitudinal study of advanced capacities: The case of Spanish heritage language learners graduate program. In Lourdes Ortega & Heidi Byrnes (eds.), The longitudinal study of advanced L2 capacities, 36–57. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar

  • Beaudrie, Sara. 2012a. Introduction: Developments in Spanish heritage language assessment. Heritage Language Journal 9(1). i–xi.Google Scholar

  • Beaudrie, Sara. 2012b. Research on university-based Spanish heritage language programs in the United States: The current state of affairs. In Sara Beaudrie & Marta Fairclough (eds.), Spanish as a heritage language in the U.S.: State of the field, 203–221. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.Google Scholar

  • Beaudrie, Sara & Cynthia Ducar. 2012. Language placement and beyond: Guidelines for the design and implementation of a computerized Spanish heritage language exam. Heritage Language Journal 9(1). 77–99.Google Scholar

  • Beaudrie, Sara, Cynthia Ducar & Kim Potowski. 2014. Heritage language teaching: Research and practice. Columbus, Ohio: McGraw-Hill Education.Google Scholar

  • Bernal-Enríquez, Ysaura & Eduardo H. Chávez. 2003. La enseñanza del español en Nuevo México ¿Revitalización o erradicación de la variedad chicana? In Ana Roca & Maria Cecilia Colombi (eds.), Mi lengua: Spanish as a heritage language in the United States, 98–119. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.Google Scholar

  • Carreira, María. 2000. Validating and promoting Spanish in the United States: Lessons from linguistic science. Bilingual Research Journal 24(4). 423–42.Google Scholar

  • Carreira, María. 2003. Profiles of SNS students in the twenty-first century. In Ana Roca & Maria Cecilia Colombi (eds.), Mi lengua: Spanish as a heritage language in the United States, 51–77. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.Google Scholar

  • Carreira, María. 2012. Meeting the needs of heritage language learners: Approaches, strategies, and research. In Sara Beaudrie & Marta Fairclough (eds.), Spanish as a heritage language in the U.S.: State of the field, 223–240. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.Google Scholar

  • Carreira, María, 2013. The vitality of Spanish in the United States. Heritage Language Journal 10(3). 103–120.Google Scholar

  • Carreira, María & Olga Kagan. 2011. The results of the National Heritage Language Survey: Implications for teaching, curriculum design, and professional development. Foreign Language Annals 43(3). 40–64.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Colombi, María Cecilia. 2002. Academic language development in Latino students’ writing in Spanish. In Mary Scheleppegrell & María Cecilia Colombi (eds.), Developing advanced literacy in first and second languages, 67–86. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar

  • Colombi, María Cecilia. 2003. Un enfoque funcional para la enseñanza del lenguaje expositivo. In Ana Roca & María Cecilia Colombi (eds.), Mi lengua: Spanish as a heritage language in the United States, 78–95. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.Google Scholar

  • Colombi, María Cecilia. 2006. Grammatical metaphor: Academic language developments in Latino students in Spanish. In Heidi Byrnes (ed.), Advanced language learning: The contribution of Halliday and Vygotsky, 147–163. Continuum: London.Google Scholar

  • Colombi, María Cecilia. 2009. A systemic functional approach to teaching Spanish for heritage speakers in the United States. Linguistics and Education 20. 39–49.Google Scholar

  • Colombi, María Cecilia & Joseph Harrington. 2012. Advanced biliteracy development in Spanish as a heritage language. In Sara Beaudrie & Marta Fairclough (eds.), Spanish as a heritage language in the United States, 241–258. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.Google Scholar

  • Colombi, María Cecilia & Dalia Magaña. 2013. Alfabetización avanzada en español en los Estados Unidos en el siglo XXI. In Domnita Dumitrescu & Gerardo Piña-Rosales (eds.), El español en los Estados Unidos: e pluribus unum? Enfoques multidisciplinarios, 339–351. New York: ANLE.Google Scholar

  • Fairclough, Marta. 2012. A working model for assessing Spanish heritage language learners’ language proficiency through a placement exam. Heritage Language Journal 9(1). 121–138.Google Scholar

  • Fairclough, Marta. 2014. Spanish as a heritage language. In Manel Lacorte (ed.), Routledge handbook of Hispanic applied linguistics, 134–149. Routledge: Hoboken.Google Scholar

  • Halliday, Michael A. K. 1989. Spoken and written language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Lear, Darcy. 2012. Languages for specific purposes curriculum creation and implementation in service to the U.S. community. Modern Language Journal 96(s1). 158–172.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Leeman, Jennifer. 2005. Engaging critical pedagogy: Spanish for native speakers. Foreign Language Annals 38. 35–45.Google Scholar

  • Leeman, Jennifer, Lisa Rabin & Esperanza Román-Mendoza. 2011. Critical pedagogy beyond the classroom walls: Community service-learning and Spanish heritage language education. Heritage Language Journal 8(3). 1–22.Google Scholar

  • Llosa, Lorena. 2014. Assessing heritage language learners. In Anthony John Kunnan (ed.), The companion to language assessment, 440–453. Oxford, UK: Willey and Sons.Google Scholar

  • Martínez, Glenn A. 2003. Classroom based dialect awareness in heritage language instruction: A critical applied linguistic approach. Heritage Language Journal 1(1). 1–14.Google Scholar

  • Martínez, Glenn A. 2010. Medical Spanish for heritage learners: A prescription to improve the health of Spanish-speaking communities. In Susana Rivera-Mills & Juan Trujillo (eds.), Building communities and making connections, 2–15. Newcastle Upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.Google Scholar

  • Martínez, Glenn A. 2011. Language and power in healthcare: Towards a theory of language barriers among linguistic minorities in the United States. In John L. Watzke, Paul Chamness Miller & Miguel Mantero, Readings in language studies volume 2: Language and power, 59–74. Saint Louis: International Society for Language Studies.Google Scholar

  • Martínez, Glenn A. & Adam Schwartz. 2012. Elevating “low” language for high stakes: A case for critical, community-based learning in a medical Spanish for heritage learners program. Heritage Language Journal 9(2). 37–49.Google Scholar

  • Parodi, Claudia. 2008. Stigmatized Spanish inside the classroom and out: A model of language teaching to heritage speakers. In Donna M. Brinton, Olga Kagan & Susan Bauckus (eds.), Heritage language education: A new field emerging, 199–214. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Potowski, Kim. 2005. Fundamentos de la enseñanza del español a los hablantes nativos en los Estados Unidos [Foundations in teaching Spanish to native speakers in the United States]. Madrid, Spain: Arco/Libros.Google Scholar

  • Potowski, Kim & María Carreira. 2004.Towards teacher development and national standards for Spanish as a heritage language. Foreign Language Annals 37(3). 421–431.Google Scholar

  • Potowski, Kim, MaryAnn Parada & Kara Morgan-Short. 2012. Developing an online placement exam for Spanish heritage speakers and L2 students. Heritage Language Journal 9(1). 51–76.Google Scholar

  • Schleppegrell, Mary & María Cecilia Colombi (eds.). 2002. Developing advanced literacy in first and second languages. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar

  • Schwarzer, David & María Petrón. 2005. Heritage language instruction at the college level: Reality and possibilities. Foreign Language Annals 38(4). 568–578.Google Scholar

  • Valdés, Guadalupe. 1997. The teaching of Spanish to bilingual Spanish-speaking students: Outstanding issues and unanswered questions. In María Cecilia Colombi & Francisco X. Alarcón (eds.), La enseñanza del español a hispanohablantes, 8–44. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar

About the article

Published Online: 2015-08-25

Published in Print: 2015-09-01

Citation Information: Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics, Volume 8, Issue 2, Pages 375–388, ISSN (Online) 2199-3386, ISSN (Print) 1939-0238, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/shll-2015-0014.

Export Citation

©2015 by De Gruyter Mouton.Get Permission

Citing Articles

Here you can find all Crossref-listed publications in which this article is cited. If you would like to receive automatic email messages as soon as this article is cited in other publications, simply activate the “Citation Alert” on the top of this page.

Kelly M. Torres, Meagan Caridad Arrastia-Chisholm, and Samantha Tackett
Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, 2018, Page 153819271877517
Vanessa Elias, Sean McKinnon, and Ángel Milla-Muñoz
Languages, 2017, Volume 2, Number 4, Page 29

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in