Developing Critical Language Awareness via Service-Learning for Spanish Heritage Speakers

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Kelly Anne Lowther Pereira, Assistant Professor of Spanish (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: In recent years a growing number of researchers have urged for the adoption of critical pedagogies for the teaching of Spanish as a heritage language (SHL) in the US (Leeman, 2012; Leeman, Rabin & Roman-Mendoza, 2011). Such critical stances to SHL instruction acknowledge the dynamic interplay between language, power, identity and ideology and aim to develop critical language awareness among students in which students gain an understanding of social hierarchies and language subordination. Merging this critical perspective with approaches that unite SHL learners and communities through service-learning programs (Martinez, 2010; Villa, 2010), the current paper examines how service-learning can accomplish critical pedagogical goals. Bridging the fields of sociolinguistics and language pedagogy, the current study examines data collected over four semesters from student journals, interviews and questionnaires in a university Spanish heritage speakers course with service-learning. Qualitative and quantitative analyses explore students’ perspectives on language use, sociolinguistic variation, identity and connectedness to the Latino community. This study demonstrates how service-learning contributes to the development of students’ awareness of sociolinguistic and sociopolitical issues affecting local Latino communities and the construction of positive identities. Expanding on sociolinguistic research aimed to better meet the needs of SHL learners (see Carreira, 2003; Potowski, 2005; Martinez, 2003; Valdes, 2001), the current study makes critical pedagogical considerations for SHL instruction, with particular emphasis on how to integrate discussions of sociolinguistic variation and language ideologies into the SHL classroom and how to raise critical language awareness among SHL students through community engagement. Overall, this study addresses the complex relationship between language, power, ideology and identity in SHL instruction.

Additional Information

Heritage Language Journal
Language: English
Date: 2015
Spanish, heritage, service-learning, critical language awareness, pedagogy, identity, language variation

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