In this course, students will explore Spanish-speaking communities in the United States, their languages, cultural legacy, history, and social context. The class is intended for heritage speakers of Spanish (i.e., someone who was educated in English but has a personal, familial or community connection to Spanish) and traditional learners of Spanish as a second language. Foreign Language instruction often does not include the complex and multifaceted realities of US Spanish-speaking communities and focuses on cultures’ standard varieties of Spanish from Spain or Latin America. In addition, because Spanish heritage speakers often communicate in English for academic matters, their varieties of Spanish are often stigmatized, considered improper, and in turn, such speakers might view their bilingualism as a disadvantage rather than as a fact of life.
The goals are twofold: first, all students, regardless of their background, will expand their linguistic repertoires without erasing or delegitimatizing the Spanish learned at home, embracing rather than ignoring any varieties students bring to the classroom. Second, students will explore the history and culture of US Spanish-speaking communities in a way in which the instructors and students actively co-construct the curriculum. For instance, students bring the knowledge and create classroom materials of their own communities, thus validating and legitimatizing their linguistic and cultural practices, which in turn will create a complex and rich portrayal of the realities of US Spanish communities’ language and culture. Heritage speakers of Spanish will benefit by gaining a deeper appreciation and connection with their own communities;. In contrast, second language learners of Spanish will gain valuable linguistic and cultural knowledge of US Spanish communities (which are often their neighbors), often overlooked in traditional foreign language curricula. They will have the opportunity to compare it with their own communities, in the US or abroad.