Heritage speakers and DLI

Getting Started

So, you’ve found out that you’re going to be teaching a section or two of Spanish for heritage speakers (aka Spanish for native speakers) at your high school next year.  It’s the class that no one wants to teach because there’s no curriculum, more behavior issues, and the students speak Spanish better than you.  I hear you.  I was in your shoes at one point.  But don’t worry, with a little help and curriculum work, Spanish for heritage speakers might just become your favorite class to teach! (spoiler alert: it’s my favorite).

  1. First things first, language is important and affects our expectations, so let’s get clear on what the difference between a native speaker and a heritage speaker is by reading this post.  
  2. Second, you’ll want to get free access to the Virtual Vault to access materials for heritage speakers and to stay up to date on the email list.  You’ll be the first to know about new freebies and blog posts as they become available.
  3. Third, I recommend starting with this post about curriculum that covers both heritage speaker and immersion classes, and then branching out below, depending on the make up of your classes.

Teaching Reading

Teaching Writing

Curriculum and Textbooks

Kim Potowski of the University of Illinois at Chicago has a great webpage about choosing a text book, including the table of contents from Spanish heritage texts for high school and post-secondary.

Most heritage teachers don’t use a textbook but instead create their own units.  Some have posted their syllabi online on Teachers Pay Teachers, COERLL or the facebook group listed below.

Groups and Blogs

ACTFL has Special Interest Groups (SIGS) that are usually included with an ACTFL membership.  These groups have email list-serves that are a good place to connect with other teachers.

COERLL Heritage Spanish Site– A place for heritage teachers to connect.  Includes a data base of teacher-created resources.

Teachers of Spanish Heritage Speakers Facebook group-This is a very active group with multiple posts a day.  It’s a great place to ask questions and connect with other secondary and post-secondary teachers.

Courses and Workshops

Empowered Educators – I created this asynchronous course to put together everything I WISH I had known before starting to teach Dual Language Immersion and heritage speakers.  You can work through it at your own pace, and it will give you the basic knowledge and some curriculum to start your year on the right track or to revamp what you have.

Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA)-offers week-long summer institutes including specific ones for new immersion teachers and teachers of heritage speakers.

Teaching Heritage Languages (UCLA) -FREE online course with videos and questions that gives a great introduction to who heritage learners are and what their needs are in the classroom.

Theory and Methods in Teaching Heritage Speakers-a methods course offered at the University of Illinois at Chicago

Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin offers online courses and a masters in Bilingual Education.

Teacher Conferences

La Cosecha Dual Language conference– multi-day conference in New Mexico in November

Seventh International Conference on Immersion and Dual Language Education-multi-day conference occurs every two years in Minneapolis and at different locations.

National Symposium on Spanish as a Heritage Language – annual conference in different locations.  Includes a Spanglish creative writing contest for students.

American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) conference-multi day conference in November, location varies, many heritage-specific sessions

American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese conference-multi-day conference, location varies but often in a Spanish-speaking country, heritage specific sessions and many focused on academic research

Your state and regional language conferences often have heritage-specific sessions but check the program before signing up.

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