8 Replies to “Language Ideologies in Instructors of Spanish as a Heritage Language (Michael Rolland)”

  1. Hola Michael, muchas gracias por tu presentación, ¡ánimo con tu disertación!
    My question is regarding instructors’ background for teaching heritage students. What kind of training did they receive before teaching this population? Do you know what it entailed?

  2. Great presentation! Along with Marina’s questions, who were these teachers? Could you provide information about teaching experience, L1 , and educational background? Looking forward to the results of your dissertation.

  3. Great job, I am unfamiliar with the topic but you engaged my attention really well and explained everything clearly. My question is the following: I am sure you’re familiar with prescriptive notions such as incomplete acquisition. I was wondering if this is something that has come up in your interviews with instructors? Also, what is your take on how this ideological notion might affect pedagogy? Thank you!

  4. Enhorabuena Mike! I cannot wait to know more about the rest of the study!!!! mucha suerte! 🙂

    My question is related to Marina’s comments – I was wondering about the pedagogical training of the teachers/educators, but not just the “títulos” o “carreras oficiales,” I was thinking more about the continuous pedagogical training as well as other workshops and community meetings and conversations that keep you rethinking your pedagogy.


  5. Muchas gracias por tu ponencia, Michael!

    I was wondering which could be best ways (and effective) to put instructors out there with tools to approach their own ideologies. I will stick to this phrase Inés brought up: keep rethinking your pedagogy. How to make this effectively in the Adjunct world (underpaid, flooded with work)?

    I’m glad of dissertations like yours are coming to life!

  6. Excelente presentación, Michael!
    Me ha encantado y me ha hecho pensar mucho en cómo lxs profesorxs llevamos determinadas ideologías lingüísticas al salón de clase. Como señala Oriana, estaría bien pensar en qué tipo de training podríamos recibir lxs que enseñamos estas clases, a veces tan precariamente, pero no queremos seguir cometiendo determinados errores. Otra cuestión relacionada con la posición de Adjuncts que cabe pensar es el margen de acción que tenemos para diseñar los cursos o para transmitir determinados conocimientos. A veces nuestro curso es el primero de un track de varios niveles de Heritage en cuyo enfoque y selección de contenidos no participamos demasiado.
    Estoy deseando ver publicado tu estudio. ¡Gracias por traer estos temas a debate!

  7. Hello, all! Thank you for the excellent questions and comments. I’ll try to respond to everything in one super-comment.

    I can only speak very generally about the instructors I mention in this presentation. All three were tenured or tenure-track professors with a variety of specializations, in both cultural/literary studies and Hispanic linguistics. Two are Mexican and one is Spanish; two are unequivocally L1 Spanish, while the third could be described as G1.5 (arrived during adolescence). I definitely think it would be useful to include the perspectives of instructors from other backgrounds, in particular Caribbean, but there are fewer of them in my potential pool and I haven’t gotten any to participate yet… signs of other problems in the academy! The linguist had a fair bit of experience and training in teaching HL learners, was aware of critical approaches to language education, and was engaged with social justice issues and ‘language awareness,’ as they put it. The other two had taken some in-service trainings but were mostly self-taught when it came to HL pedagogy.

    Ideas like incomplete acquisition didn’t come up explicitly in our discussions, but I think they are there implicitly. The overarching idea that I identified in their discourse was that students’ Spanish is drifting away from a shared norm, and they view this as concerning; whether participants perceived that drift to be quantitative (i.e., their Spanish is simply ‘incomplete’) or qualitative (the problem is substantive divergences/differences from normative Spanish) was something I didn’t analyze. Personally, I understand the value of the idea of incomplete acquisition form a psycholinguistic perspective, but I’m somewhat uncomfortable with the concept because the idea of ‘incomplete’ implies the existence of a ‘complete,’ stable, and homogeneous target norm, and views HLLs’ language from a deficit perspective relative to that norm. As to how ideas such as incomplete acquisition affect pedagogy, I think they lead us to think in certain ways about HLLs: focusing attention on what they can’t do more than what they can, and reducing our acceptance of variation that might be ‘normal’ or unremarkable in another context and making it a cause for concern in the HLL population. I think the main goal of HLL courses, at least the typical two-year, lower-division language courses, should be on expressing meaning effectively. That might mean using standard linguistic forms, but it just as well might not. I teach several translation courses, with mostly advanced HLL students, and that’s always my first concern there, too. There are so many ways of achieving that goal, and I think we should be open-minded to students’ innovations! That’s how languages themselves change and grow.

    Looking at the bigger picture, I think it has to be incumbent on departments and programs to set the tone and do the heavy lifting, for both full-time faculty whose specialization is not in Hispanic Linguistics or teaching HLLs, and especially for adjuncts, who can’t be expected to create relevant and supportive materials out of thin air and with no training. For departments, this would mean prioritizing HL programs, providing training to all instructors who teach HL courses, and, for instructors who need them, selecting or pointing instructors to relevant, affirming course materials that engage HLLs and encourage them to grow in their use of the language. Practically, they probably need to be hiring specialists in HL pedagogy or training their existing language program coordinators on effective approaches.

    It might seem like a tall order, but prioritizing HL programs would be in the self-interest of many departments. Leaving aside notions of justice and service to society for a moment, many Spanish departments depend on HLLs to fill the ranks of their majors and minors and keep their programs alive. If all they did was teach basic language courses, they would be little more than ‘service’ departments for other majors (this is already happening at many institutions). If departments want to raise the numbers of students who major or minor in the language, they should make students feel affirmed and create a positive association with Spanish.

    Instructor selection is also important. Too often, in my experience, those who schedule courses choose instructors based on opaque criteria, including a seeming preference for ‘native speaker’ instructors with university degrees from Spanish-speaking countries, perhaps because they are perceived to be the right linguistic model for students and to have the knowledge authority to teach them. My results, and those of other studies, suggest that a much more relevant criterion would be training and approach; instructors’ bilingualism should be seen as a strength, not a weakness.

    For instructors who are in a situation where all this isn’t the reality, there will be more work involved, unfortunately, but the first step is simple: recognize that your students are already Spanish speakers, that they have strong communicative abilities, that they can communicate with Spanish-speakers from around the globe. Don’t be afraid of their non-standard-ness. It’s about changing attitudes as much as anything else. Validating students’ home/community language means not correcting their ‘localisms’ or Spanglish all the time, maybe even adopting some yourself, and valorizing non-standard language in the classroom through activities that incorporate that language and highlight its relevance and value. Service-learning and community-based curricula have a good history of doing this, but they’re not strictly necessary. Fortunately, open educational resources with a helpful perspective are beginning to appear for HLL courses, though you always have to be careful in selecting them. One could start by replacing some form-focused activities in a traditional curriculum with something more useful and relevant. As a few jumping-off points, I’d suggest the materials created and/or cataloged by COERLL (the Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning) and Claudia Holguín Mendoza’s page “Pedagogías Críticas para la Enseñanza de Lenguas”. Links below:

    ¡Gracias a todes, mucho ánimo para el final del semestre y que disfruten del verano!

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