Measuring Critical Language Awareness in Spanish as a Heritage Language Classrooms

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Shelley Dykstra
Agustina Carando


The first part of this study reports findings of the improved scope, reliability, and validity of a questionnaire completed by 89 students designed to measure Critical Language Awareness (CLA) in Spanish as a Heritage Language (SHL) university classrooms. The second part of this study applies the questionnaire longitudinally at a large US West Coast institution to assess the development of CLA among 27 students enrolled in SHL courses. Results show that students made significant gains in one out of five themes. As critical approaches achieve more prominence in SHL education, the ability to measure students’ CLA offers important opportunities for SHL directors and instructors to gain a greater understanding of their student population, as well as to focus on specific areas of improvement. Implications for SHL program evaluation and development are discussed, offering a vision for a more explicit curriculum that intentionally raises students’ sociopolitical awareness of language hierarchies.

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Research Articles
Author Biographies

Shelley Dykstra, a:1:{s:5:"en_US";s:31:"University of California, Davis";}

Shelley Dykstra is a Ph.D. candidate in Hispanic Linguistics pursuing emphases in Second Language Acquisition and Writing, Rhetoric, and Composition Studies at the University of California, Davis. She completed her MA in Spanish Linguistics at University of Barcelona, Spain, and her BA in Linguistics Language Study from University of California, San Diego. Her current research interests are second language and heritage language reading and writing, learner emotions, and critical language awareness.

Agustina Carando, University of California, Davis

Agustina Carando is an Assistant Professor and Director of the Spanish for Heritage Speakers Program at the University of California, Davis. She completed her Ph.D. in Linguistics at City University of New York, and her dissertation focused on the emergence of L1 innovations in Spanish-English bilinguals. Her current research focuses on the relationship between language attitudes and practices.


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