The Implementation of Critical Pedagogies in the Spanish Heritage Language Classroom Challenges and Lessons Learned

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Isabella Calafate


In an attempt to battle systemic oppression towards Spanish as a heritage language (SHL) speakers in the United States, theoretical advances in the field of SHL education have pointed to a critical turn (Leeman & Serafini, 2016;
Martínez, 2003; among others). At the core of critical pedagogies is the goal of legitimizing and empowering SHL speakers. Developing students’ critical consciousness about how languages/dialects are valued differently based on
power dynamics enables them to question taken-for-granted and essentialist language assumptions and, consequently, better engage in the quest for social change. Nevertheless, there is still a gap between theory and practice due to the lack of critical pedagogical materials. This paper shares and reflects on SHL students’ feedback on the implementation of such materials in the classroom. It discusses the challenges and lessons learned in attempting to bridge theory and practice. The ultimate goal of this study is to inform and encourage other educators to collaborate in a transformative agenda aimed at the integration of critical pedagogies into the field of SHL education.

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