Academic journal article NAER - Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research

Research on Heritage Spanish Phonetics and Phonology: Pedagogical and Curricular Implications

Academic journal article NAER - Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research

Research on Heritage Spanish Phonetics and Phonology: Pedagogical and Curricular Implications

Article excerpt

1 INTRODUCTION

The terms heritage speaker and heritage language user refer to a type of bilingual who grows up with some degree of exposure to a minority language at home, or to a heritage language (HL) (Valdes, 2000; among others). (i) Subsequently, entrance into the educational system marks a point of increased input and use of the socially dominant language, which leads to a wide range of linguistic outcomes in both languages involved. HL users of a particular language form a highly heterogeneous group, ranging from individuals with high levels of linguistic proficiency to those who barely speak the language but still identify with the culture associated with it (Helmer, 2011; Kondo-Brown, 2010; Van Deusen-Scholl, 2003). HL users are also widely diverse as regards their cultural background and home language variety. Though some debate exists as to who can be labelled a HL user, as well as regarding the term itself (Wiley, 2001), the of immigration or those born abroad who immigrated before school age or before their teen years (Potowski, 2013).

While HL users of various languages reside across the globe, one of the most populous examples is HL users of Spanish in the USA. Decades of Spanish speakers immigrating from Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, among other regions, has resulted in a significant increase in the number of HL users of Spanish all across the USA, but particularly in larger urban areas (e.g., Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Miami) and in the southwestern region of the country (e.g., Arizona, New Mexico) (United States Census, 2010). According to population census estimates, Hispanics accounted for 17% of the population (54 million people) in 2013 compared to 12.5% (35 million) just 13 years earlier in 2000. As universities, colleges, and high schools have taken note of this population growth, more heritage Spanish courses have been developed. A key part of the formation of such courses is that institutions have recognized that a HL learner, or a HL user who takes courses in an academic setting to learn more about and expand their HL proficiency, has different needs than the traditional adult second language (L2) learner (Montrul, 2010; Valdes, 2001). That is, in many cases, HL learners can successfully navigate informal, spoken communication due to their experience with their HL as a child, but do not possess similar levels of knowledge of formal registers or written communication in the language (Lynch, 2012), which they would need in an academic or job setting, simply because they did not have the opportunity or motivation to learn such skills. The opposite trends are the case for the majority of L2 learners. Because HL learners bring different linguistic competencies to the language classroom when compared to L2 learners, it has been recommended that programs provide separate classes for HL learners that target their unique strengths and weaknesses (Alarcon, 2010; Beaudrie, 2011, 2012a; Lynch, 2003, 2009; Montrul, 2004; Potowski & Carreira, 2010; Roca & Colombi, 2003; Zamora, 2013).

Courses designed for HL learners have been available in some regions of the USA since as early as the 1970s (Valdes, 1981). However, despite the growing population of HL users, a survey conducted by the National Foreign Language Center (NFLC) and the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP) reports that only 18% of the 146 colleges or universities sampled offer HL classes (Ingold, Rivers, Tesser, & Ashby, 2002). More recent surveys have found higher proportions of HL programs, but the availability of these programs is unevenly distributed throughout the country, even in regions with high concentrations of HL users (Kondo-Brown, 2010). Beaudrie (2011) finds an uneven distribution of HL classes throughout the southwest region of the USA, but also discovers a positive relationship between the availability of HL programs and the size of the Hispanic student population. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.