“Me veía hesitant en contestar su pregunta and how to break things down” Peer Tutors’ Experience at the Heritage Spanish Writing Center

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Agustina Carando
Claire J. Lozano


This study analyzes the experiences of undergraduate peer-tutors in a Heritage Spanish Writing Center (HSWC). Tutors, uniquely positioned as the bridge between heritage language students and the linguistic ideals of the academic community, struggle to balance being a bilingual advocate while promoting language practices that operate within a monolingual framework. This is particularly evident in the context of students’ writing development, where literacy expectations can be more rigid. The tutors are former students who completed
the Spanish as a Heritage Language (SHL) program and, by the end of the series, had displayed increased tolerance towards their own language practices and become more conscious of their linguistic choices. However, we wanted to know if this milestone was transferred to the tutoring room once these SHL students became tutors in the program.

We collected written reflections from 19 tutors over the course of two academic quarters. Our goal was to analyze how tutors navigate the transition from student to tutor and how the relationship to their new role evolves throughout the first year, specifically: 1) what they value in terms of language and literacy, 2) what strategies they use, and 3) what challenges they encounter. We find that as tutors gain more experience and utilize the support system of the other tutors, they learn to engage with the students’ writing, develop confidence in tutoring academic Spanish, and take on a mentoring role. Even with these gains, tutors still struggle with providing “adequate” feedback and negotiating the role between peer and tutor.

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