The other side of heritage language education: Understanding Spanish heritage language teachers in the United States

Gironzetti, E., & Belpoliti, F. (2022). The other side of heritage language education: Understanding Spanish heritage language teachers in the United States. Foreign Language Annals.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/flan.12591

ABSTRACT

In response to the growth of Spanish heritage language (SHL) learners in the United States, researchers and instructors in the field of SHL teaching proposed a set of goals and pedagogical approaches to meet these learners’ needs. However, because few studies focused on SHL teachers’ professional preparation and practice, it is unclear whether these developments have reached language teacher preparation and professionalization, or how SHL teachers are implementing these pedagogies. This study seeks to better understand the experiences, practices, and needs of teachers of SHL to inform and improve professional development models. By analyzing data from a nationwide online survey and exploring individual experiences through scripted interviews, we offer a snapshot of the realities of these educators working in different educational contexts in the United States. The analysis highlights the challenges faced by SHL instructors, the gaps in their teacher education, and the need for additional resources and targeted support. The implications of these results for SHL teacher preparation are discussed considering feasible options to foster their professional growth.