“Este Artículo Describía Mi Vida” Heritage Speakers, Critical Language Awareness, and Writing for the Community

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Meghann M. Peace


The field of Spanish for heritage speakers has evolved considerably over the past decades, moving from educational practices in which students were punished for speaking Spanish in the classroom to modern approaches that seek to raise critical awareness of students’ own varieties (e.g., Avendaño, 1979; Beaudrie, 2015; Beaudrie et al., 2021; Correa, 2011; Holguín Mendoza, 2018; Leeman, 2005, 2018; Martínez, 2003, Valdés, 1981; Villa, 2004). However, despite current research that supports critical language awareness and community engagement, heritage speakers continue to suffer from insecurity caused in part by discrimination and criticism from their families, schools, and society (e.g., Burns, 2018; George & Peace, 2019; Higby et al., 2023; Leeman, 2012, 2018; Lowther Pereira, 2015; MacGregor-Mendoza & Moreno, 2016; Martínez & Schwartz, 2012; Pascual y Cabo et al., 2017; Rangel et al., 2015; Sánchez-Muñoz, 2016; Showstack, 2012, 2017). Work in critical language awareness must expand beyond the classroom into the wider community. This paper presents the results of an academic intervention in which undergraduate-level linguistics courses at a Hispanic-Serving Institution published Spanish-language articles and podcasts on topics in critical language awareness and heritage/minority languages. An analysis of the comments posted to these publications by community members reveals that, although these topics are relatively unknown outside of the classroom, they are quite relevant. The positive responses to these publicly available articles and podcasts, plus the presence of some purist ideologies even in the most supportive comments, underscore the necessity of including more public-facing work in the heritage language classroom.

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