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¿¡Cómo Que Spanglish!? Creating a Service Learning Component for a Spanish Heritage Language Program

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An important development in Spanish language pedagogy in the U.S. during the 20th century was the realization in the profession that those students who came to the classroom already in the possession of communicative skills in the language required different instruction than those who were second language learners. In the late 1970s and early 1980s programs labeled Spanish for Native Speaker (SNS) began to emerge at the university level. However, these programs were often rooted in the notion that the Spanish skills brought to the classroom were deficient and needed remediation and correcting (Rodriguez Pino and Villa 1994, 356–57; Leeman 2005, 36–7).

However, as the SNS field continued to develop during the 1980s and ’90s, differing viewpoints emerged regarding the goals of these programs. Leeman (2005) succinctly sums up this emergent dichotomy:

Despite [the] widespread agreement about the linguistic legitimacy of all varieties, it is possible to identify two emerging strands in SNS pedagogy: (a) a more normative approach that emphasizes the expansion of heritage speakers’ linguistic repertoires to include prestige varieties and formal registers, and (b) a more critical approach that attempts to make heritage speakers’ own linguistic experience a more central part of the classroom and to foster awareness of linguistic and sociolinguistic principles related to Spanish in the United States (37).

This chapter falls squarely into the latter perspective Leeman describes, but approaches the development of critical studies of U.S. Spanish from a different angle. A key phrase that Leeman (2005, 37) employs is “…a more central part of the CLASSROOM…” (emphasis added). I will present here how one heritage language program is expanding OUTSIDE the classroom in pursuing the goal of integrating heritage speakers’ linguistics skills, and an awareness of those skills, into projects designed to benefit the wider communities those individuals inhabit.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2010

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  • Building Communities and Making Connections
    Building Communities and Making Connections explores areas of academic and community engagement, through various studies that include community service learning, and the development and implementation of university programs that contain a community dimension. Academic endeavors have long been seen as separate from the realities of local and regional communities. This book closes the gap by looking at ways in which both academia and the communities its serves can collaborate to create authentic and applied learning environments.
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