Critical Sociolinguistics Meets Curriculum Design Demystifying Language Ideologies in the Heritage Language Classroom

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Jorge Mendez Seijas
Dr. LeAnne Spino


This manuscript describes a course for heritage speakers (HSs) of Spanish implemented at a large state university in the Northeast US. As has been reported, HSs face pervasive language-based discriminatory practices and attitudes within academic and societal contexts. To challenge this discrimination, heritage language (HL) education must provide students with knowledge and analytic tools to deconstruct denigrating language ideologies as well as some of the sociopolitical forces undergirding them. Doing so may help break the symbolic shackles of these ideologies and foster linguistic gains through the appreciation of linguistic variation. Critically-oriented HL courses looking to achieve this goal, however, are still scarce in the US. Hence, this work aims to contribute to ongoing discussions of how to design this type of course by presenting the rationale behind this new curriculum and making explicit connections between critical sociolinguistics research and the content and tasks of each course unit. Unlike other HL courses whose critical component is an add-on to more traditional linguistic and cultural content, this course makes demystifying language ideologies its main driving force.

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