Latin American Studies
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

SPAN 551: Special Topics in Spanish

SPAN 551-003: Heritage Language Education
(Fall 2017)

04:30 PM to 07:10 PM R

Aquia Building 347

Section Information for Fall 2017

This course provides an overview of Heritage Language (HL) education in the United States, one of the fastest growing areas of language education research and practice. We will cover the development of the field, as well as key areas of current research and debate, beginning a discussion of the multiple definitions of the constructs of “heritage language,” “heritage language education,” and heritage language learner. In this course, we will focus primarily on the teaching of “foreign” (i.e., non-English) languages to students who have some home-based experience with the language under study.

In order to understand the sociocultural and institutional context in which HL education takes place, we will consider the history and demographics of multilingualism in the US as well as language-in-education policy. Course readings and discussions will address a broad range of theoretical and research perspectives as well as applied/pedagogical topics, such as language ideologies in heritage language education, heritage language education and identity, the linguistic characteristics of heritage language speakers, the goals of heritage language education, and various pedagogical approaches including critical pedagogy and critical language awareness. Specific pedagogical issues such as assessment, mixed classes, and service-learning, as well as learner motivations and experiences, will also be covered. While we will discuss research carried out from a broad range of theoretical perspectives, the emphasis will be on sociolinguistic and ethnographic approaches. Thus, students are expected to acquire or solidify knowledge of key sociolinguistic topics such as language and identity, language contact, language ideologies, language socialization, and language and nationalism, among others.

Because Spanish is the language most commonly taught as a heritage language in the US, and has figured most prominently in the field of heritage language education, many of the readings focus on Spanish. However, the issues addressed are also relevant for other heritage languages such as Arabic and Korean. In addition, some course readings focus on other languages, and speakers, students and teachers of other languages are asked to share their knowledge of issues specific to those languages. All students are expected to compare and contrast across languages, both in order to develop a deeper understanding of the language(s) in which they are most interested, and to acquire a sense of heritage language education more broadly.

Learning Objectives

This course is designed to provide students with an overview of HL education in the US, including a consideration of the ideological and policy contexts in which it is situated. By the end of the course students will develop:

  • an understanding of the main issues in heritage language education including areas of current research
  • knowledge of the linguistic and sociocultural characteristics of HL students
  • familiarity with the most prominent pedagogical models of HL education and educational policy
  • awareness of a wide range of approaches, methodologies and data sources within HL education research
  • experience exploring the pedagogical implications of HL research
  • critical analytical ability regarding the underlying assumptions of HL research studies and pedagogical proposals

Topic Varies

Course Information from the University Catalog

Credits: 3

Special studies in Spanish or Latin American language, literature, or culture. Specific topics are announced in advance. Notes: May be repeated for credit with permission of department. May be repeated within the term.
Registration Restrictions:

Enrollment limited to students with a class of Advanced to Candidacy, Graduate, Non Degree or Senior Plus.

Enrollment is limited to Graduate, Non-Degree or Undergraduate level students.

Students in a Non-Degree Undergraduate degree may not enroll.

Schedule Type: Lecture

The University Catalog is the authoritative source for information on courses. The Schedule of Classes is the authoritative source for information on classes scheduled for this semester. See the Schedule for the most up-to-date information and see Patriot web to register for classes.

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