Presented by Jocelly Meiners (University of Texas at Austin)
We have the wonderful opportunity to present heritage students who share their experiences and perceptions of the SHL program at the University of Texas at Austin. Hearing student voices and their perspectives are a critical component to the discussion of heritage language teaching.
In the following video, Jocelly Meiners talks about the student panel.
Video: Student Panel Introduction
The Spanish Heritage program at UT Austin had the opportunity to create a video or trailer of their program. In the video, heritage students were showcased as they shared their opinions and voices in relation to their experience in the SHL program.
Please watch the promotional video on the website of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.
In the following video, Jocelly Meiners presents the student panel:
Video: Student Panel Presentation
Introducing Heritage Students
In the end of this module, you will be able to:
Explore the importance of a supportive learning environment
Identify strategies that helped heritage students
One of the major takeaways from the student panel is the diversity of language background and perspectives. Some students shared that they initially thought that they did not need a Spanish course or that their Spanish language abilities were already satisfied.
Another element to discuss is that students felt challenged in their courses and were often put outside of their comfort zones in order to grow and progress. As educators we should challenge our students but provide the tools needed for them to progress.
Students expressed the support they received from their professors throughout their studies. Teacher-student relationships are definitely a needed foundation so students feel the support and they can trust their educators. Once they feel safe in their learning environment as well as have the support from their teachers, they are more prone to be open in sharing their experiences and to grow. Students express that they are still learning but they have the foundation and needed tools to use in order to continue learning.
In the following two video segments, students discussed what were the elements or things that helped in this course.
Video: Student Success 1
Video: Student Success 2
Students expressed that they were explicitly told about their diversity since the beginning. The differences of abilities from classmate to classmate was a reality that was not hidden to the students. Heritage students expressed a sense of trust and comfort in their learning environment to the point that they no longer feared criticism. Correction to errors are now embraced.
Another factor that the students mentioned as helpful was the sequencing of topics and materials as well as the visualization of verb conjugations in tables, which are helpful for visual learners. Students also expressed favor to the Diario assignments. For these assignments, the students write weekly journal entries on various assigned topics. The instructor reads the journal and underlines any mistakes. Then the students have the opportunity to correct their mistakes, but they also have to explain their mistakes in order to obtain full credit for the assignment. By explaining the errors and using metalinguistic descriptions, students learn from their mistakes and avoid them in the future, thus progressively improving their writing.
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