University of Texas at Austin

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University of Texas at Austin

The Spanish Heritage Learner program at UT-Austin is comprised of two lower division six-hour courses (rather than the three six-hour courses for SLA) and one upper division three-hour course. One of the primary goals of the SHL program is the development of a critical thinking approach towards the analysis of language in society by focusing on four competencies: linguistic, communicative, cultural, and metalinguistic. Starting Fall 2015 the courses carry a Cultural Diversity Flag with focus on histories, traditions, practices, or aesthetics of the culturally rich Hispanic community in the U.S. that includes a wide-range of nationalities, ethnicities, and a generational variety of speakers of Spanish. At least one third of the course grade is based on content related to Cultural Diversity.

The first of the two-course sequence is SPN 604, which in addition to critical thinking skills and appreciation of Hispanic culture, seeks to revitalize and expand HLs inherent Spanish skills by having them inductively master grammar points of particular concern to them while improving their strategic speaking, reading, and writing skills. Equally important is guiding students to examine, recognize, and appreciate dialectal, social, and contextual variations of their heritage language. Throughout the course there is substantial emphasis on systematic reprocessing of materials to augment the learners; ability to apply and reinforce their knowledge, thereby building confidence in using Spanish.

SPN 612 builds on the HLs experience in 604, advances their understanding and appreciation of their language and culture, and provides the necessary skills for success in upper-division linguistics and literature courses. Focus is placed on the forms and functions of academic oral and written Spanish, including lexical, phonetic, morphological, syntactic, and discursive categories, as well as the range of linguistic variation and its sociolinguistic significance. Likewise learners further develop the linguistic and interactional skills necessary to effectively communicate in Spanish. As in SPN 604, a strong component of the course is creating a cultural connection with their heritage language through readings, discussions, and historical, literary, and sociolinguistic knowledge of Spain, Latin America, and the US Hispanic population.

SPN 327N is a bridge course between the lower-division Spanish heritage language courses and upper-division courses in culture, literature, and linguistics. It is a project-based learning course, in which students perform learner-centered activities that focus on learning through inquiry, and acquiring in-depth knowledge on issues of relevance and interest in the real world. In this course, students perform research in Spanish using a variety of sources, and learn to analyze these sources, developing critical and integrative thinking skills in the heritage language. Students have the opportunity to interact in Spanish with members of their communities, discuss topics that are relevant to their interests and fields of study, as well as write, speak and present on these topics in an academic and professional setting. In addition, they gain skills that would be required to work professionally in a Spanish-speaking environment. The goal of this course is to both prepare and empower students to apply their bilingual/bicultural knowledge in academic and professional settings.