Module 3 Lesson 1

Language Arts and Metalinguistics

Introduction and Language Arts

At the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Explain the purpose for a SHL course
  • Explore the concept of “language arts”

In order to help you throughout the progression of this module, we have provided you access to a copy of the powerpoint presentation as well as the corresponding handout.

Teaching heritage students of Spanish is a challenge and journey unique to every educator. We are aware that our students have diverse needs in their development of their heritage language. In this module, we will be exploring ways to support our students in grammar through metacognition and reflection. In the following video, Delia Montesinos explains the importance of a strong grammatical foundation in the development of a language as she shares her background and experience teaching heritage students of Spanish.

Video: Delia Montesinos Introduction and Experience

In the following video, Delia Montesinos presents an overview of the content of this workshop and module.

Video: Introduction to presentation content

Video: Purposes of teaching in SHL

As educators we are to create goals for our SHL courses and also foster an appreciation and ownership over their heritage language.

In the following video, Delia Montesinos speaks about the concept of “language arts”.

Video: What is language arts?

Explicit knowledge of grammar language is a topic that is fading in the case of our monolingual students. This issue is more detrimental when it comes to our heritage students who may not have the vocabulary to discuss the language.


In this section you will be able to:

  • Define the concept of “metalinguistics”
  • Correlate the relationship between grammar and metalinguistics
  • Explain the importance of grammatical language in explaining grammatical errors

We have seen in the previous section that our students are facing very unique challenges in their development of their heritage language. In the case of language arts, we see that explicit work and knowledge with language is a topic that is being lost in education. For many of our heritage students, they do not have the terminology to discuss the language. In this section, Delia Montesinos will be exploring the role of metalinguistics in the development of grammatical competence of the heritage language.

In the following video segment, we will ponder the following question: What is metalinguistics?

Qué es la metalingüística? Marca todas las que apliquen.

Es la capacidad de:

  • objetivar el lenguaje como un proceso que se puede discutir, analizar y estudiar
  • reflexionar conscientemente sobre la naturaleza del lenguaje
  • explicar la ejecución y transferencia de conocimientos lingüísticos a través de idiomas/códigos (cambio de código, translenguar).
  • entender que el lenguaje va más allá del significado literal a uno implícito
  • comprender que el lenguaje tiene una estructura que se puede manipular (decir o escribir cosas de maneras diferentes).
  • reflexionar sobre el uso del lenguaje.

Video: What is metalinguistics?

We see that metalinguistics is an active process of reflection and critical thinking. In the following section we will explore the role grammar plays in metalinguistics.

Can you explain the following errors without the use of grammatical terminology?
1. Es la muchacha que conoces su papá. It’s the girl whose father you know.

Video: Situation 1

What about these sentences?
2. Queríamos ir con tú pero mi hermana no llegó a tiempo. We wanted to go with you but my sister didn’t get here on time.
3. Se vende coches. “People” sell cars.

Video: Situation 2 and 3

A common grammar language can be an effective tool to make grammatical competence accessible for heritage students.

Video: All Situations – Diversity in Classroom

We see that there can be difficulty in simply explaining a grammatical error. Not only are we dealing with a lack of a common grammar language with our students, we also have to consider their diverse backgrounds.

Look at the following sentence and identify all of the errors:
Por favor no me forze a ser el trabajo.

As you identify all of the grammatical errors, consider all of the things that our students needed to have learned in order for them to understand and reflect over these errors.

Video: Identifying grammatical language needs

When we can identify the specific language knowledge students need to do, we can better plan it in our teaching. Not only does this serve as a way for students to remember what they have learned or to use what they learned, but it also aids educators in effective planning and teaching.

Review questions:

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