Module 4 Lesson 1

The Context and the Students of our SHL Program

Understanding the Available Data

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

  • Explore data about the heritage language and programs
  • Understand the concept of a “deficit value” in relation to heritage students

Creating a Heritage Spanish program is no small task. Obtaining a heritage course is already a positive step forward, but what are the elements that should be considered? Dr. López Alonzo and Dr. McNair share their experience.

Video: The Presenters

Sometimes there appears to be more challenges when it comes to creating a SHL program. In the following section, Dr. López Alonzo discusses some of the challenges that we face in the creation of a SHL program.

Video:Overview of Presentation and Discussing Challenges in SH Programs

We can see that there are some issues we face with the lack of specialized materials as well as communications with administration and colleagues. Whatever the challenge may be, there is a need for these courses. Dr. López Alonzo explains data pertaining to SHL programs.

Video: Data on SHL Programs

The good news is that SHL programs appear to be gradually growing. In relation to languages used in the home, Spanish is the most used language other than English. The data is showing that SHL programs have great potential and are relevant. In the case of Baylor University, they have an HS course and aspire to have a SHL program. Dr. López Alonzo and Dr. McNair explain the case of Baylor University.

Video: Knowing the student population

An important case in the creation of SHL is understanding the student population with which we are working. We also need to consider that not all Hispanic students are heritage students. As well as the numbers, we also have to acknowledge the external perspectives of heritage Spanish students.

Video: Understanding the external perspectives of SHL Programs

Among the factors in the creation of the is the view of heritage students as a deficit value. These are attitudes that should be clarified with our heritage students.

Understanding and Reaching Students

In this section you will be able to:

  • Explain the need to cultivate relationships with advisors and counselors
  • Understand the impact of course descriptions on prospective students
  • Describe ways to promote an SHL course or program

One of the challenges can be enrollment into the SHL course. Dr. McNair explains the history of the enrollment of the SHL course in Baylor University from 2013 to 2019.

Video: History of SHL Course at Baylor University

In the history of the enrollment of the SHL course in Baylor University, there are various factors to consider when it comes to enrollment. It appears to be a battle but it’s important to be strategic and consider all of the factors. One of these factors can be the understanding among advisors of what is this course about as well as the information they provide to students.

Video: Course Descriptions – Before and After

Another issue can be the overall description of the course itself. As explained by Dr.McNair, the description could bring a false impression of the course. In their case, the course description had to be changed in order to provide a clear understanding of the nature of
the course.

Once the class begins, Dr. López Alonzo explains the need for the educator to be willing to adjust and adapt to the needs of the students. When you have only one course offering and every student is different, there is a need for adjustment, and you have to consider their diverse needs. For this reason, every semester the course may change.

In the following video segment, Dr. López Alonzo explains the different strategies that Baylor University took to promote their SHL course.

Video: Challenges and Strategies in Promoting a SHL Program or Course

Overall, we can see how valuable is to consider the following factors when designing and creating a SHL program or course:

  • Understanding the context
  • Understanding the student population
  • Understanding the attitudes about the heritage language and its speakers
  • Communication with advisors, administrators, and colleagues
  • Effective course description
  • Promotion of the SHL course or program and connecting with student organizations

Review Questions:

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