The Social Context of our Students
Statistics and Data
At the end of this section, you will be able to:
- Recall data regarding the Hispanic population
- Recall data regarding the level of Spanish language ability amongst Hispanics
Planning content and implementing effective strategies with the heritage language learner can be a daunting task. One of the ways that we can gain a better understanding of the social reality of our students is to take a look at the national level. In the following video segment, Dr. Belpoliti shares data on the current state of Hispanics on the national scale of the United States.
Video: Hispanics in the US
The Hispanic population has grown to about 60 million people. The other significant piece of data is that although Mexico continues to be the most prominent country of origin for the Hispanic population, we must acknowledge that there is a growing diversity. Our students can come from different Spanish-speaking countries.
Question: How diverse is your heritage language learner
community? Is this diversity recognized and valued in the classroom?
This is data we see on a national scale. In the following video segment, we will explore some data about Hispanics within the field of education.
Video: Hispanic Trends
Within the field of education as teachers we are serving and supporting our students. However, the Hispanic graduation rate is still lower than the national average. Now, let’s consider some data related to the Spanish language itself. What level or ability of Spanish can our students have? What levels have you seen in your classroom?
Video: Spanish Speaker Trends
Social Discourse outside and inside the Classroom
In this section you will be able to:
- Describe differences in needs between heritage language learners and second language learners
In the previous section, we viewed data that can bring insight to the students we see in our classrooms as well as their abilities. As teachers, we desire to support our students as well as let them see their heritage language in a positive light. The issue is that our positive discourse in the classroom can greatly differ from the social discourse they face outside of the classroom.
Dr. Belpoliti will discuss the concept of language-as-a-threat in the case of the Spanish language in the United States.
Take a moment to look at the following reports and/or videos:
- Man Freaks Out & Threatens to Call ICE Because Someone Dared to Speak Spanish In NYC (article from Remezcla with video)
- Students Walk Out After Teacher Orders: Speak ‘American’ (article from NBC News with video)
- Why the Aaron Schlossbergs of the World Won’t Stop Us From Speaking Spanish in Public With Pride (article from Remezcla with video and embedded tweets)
Video: Spanish-as-a-threat Ideology
Question: What are the effects of the ideological representation of ‘Spanish-as-a-threat’ in children & young Latinos’ identity, community ascription, and self-regard? And the effects in our classrooms? What strategies would you implement to discuss these cases
with your students?
Since the heritage language is an element tied directly to the students’ identity, there is a need to support our students socio-affectively.
Video: Socio-Affective Support
Heritage students differ from second language learners because the language itself is directly tied to the students identity. This connection of language and identity does demand careful and meaningful socio-affective support. In this case, there is a need to not only support heritage students linguistically, but also socio-affectively. This situation is different for second language learners who may not have such a critical tie to the language in terms of identity and origin.
“Statistics and Data” section
- Gramlich, J. (2017). Hispanic dropout rate hits new low, college enrollment at new high. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center.
- National Center for Education Statistics. (2017) Graduation rate for first-time, full-time bachelor’s degree-seeking students at 4 year postsecondary institutions. Washington, DC: Institute of Education Sciences.
- National Center for Education Statistics. (2018). Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Groups. Washington, DC: NCES, US Department of Education.
- Pew Research Center (2015). What is the future of Spanish in the US?. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center.
- U.S. Census Bureau (2018). Language Spoken at Home (Hispanic or Latino). 2017 American Community Survey.
“Social Discourse outside and inside the Classroom” section
- Fuller, J. & Leeman, J. (2020) Speaking Spanish in the US, 2nd. ed. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
- Leeman, J. (2015). Heritage Language Education and Identity in the United States. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 35, 100-119. doi:10.1017/S0267190514000245
- Martínez, G. (2012). Policy and Planning Research for Spanish as a Heritage Language: From Language Rights to Linguistic Resources. In S. M. Beaudrie & M. Fairclough (Eds.), Spanish as a heritage language in the United States: The State of the Field (pp. 439–60). Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.
- Showstack, R. (2017) Stancetaking and Language Ideologies in Heritage Language Learner Classroom Discourse. Journal of Language, Identity & Education, 16 (5), 271-284.
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