The Teaching of Spanish to University-level Heritage Speakers in Texas and the US: Creating Negative Linguistic Self-Concept
Recent research has shown considerable difficulty in the providing of adequate and appropriate instructional programs at the college and university level in Spanish language, culture, and literature for heritage speakers of the language in the United States and especially in states where the largest numbers of such speakers reside and study, such as Texas. Issues of determining the appropriate orientation for such courses, attracting students into the courses, keeping them in the courses, and motivating them regarding their Spanish studies prove to be greatly affected by the attitudes of faculty and administrators toward U.S. and/or Southwest Spanish and by the internalization of these same attitudes by the students themselves. The authors have conducted several studies of these issues and propose to report here the results of a multiyear study linking students' views of their own proficiency levels in Spanish with their actual proficiency test scores in the language as administered during upper level coursework in Spanish at the university level. In addition, these two ratings are also compared to students' responses to a questionnaire asking them about their language background and about their perceptions of others' attitudes toward their variety of language. Conclusions are drawn, along with recommendations for humanities programs in Spanish.
Keywords: Spanish, Heritage speakers, Linguistic self-concept, Attitudes toward language variety
Dr. Barbara Gonzalez-Pino
Associate Professor, Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Texas at San Antonio
Professor, Modern Languages and Literatures, University of Texas at San Antonio