Critical Approaches to Heritage Language Education

Topic: Critical Approaches to Heritage Language Education: Centering Identities, Race, and Power in Language Reclamation
Description: Heritage language learners bring a range of vital language and literacy histories, connections with communities, and complex intercultural knowledge. Unfortunately, typical world language curriculum and teacher preparation aren’t designed for heritage learners to expand their confidence and truly thrive. Heritage language teachers can disrupt language loss, help heal wounds from subtractive schooling, and nourish a sustainable multilingual future.

This institute advocates for critical approaches and a healing-centered paradigm to language teaching. This starts with identifying ways that heritage learners have been denied access to the natural development of bilingualism and biliteracy (e.g., institutional racism, impacts of colonialism, linguistic xenophobia). Then the institute dives into transformational teaching practices that create fertile spaces to regenerate language confidence and learners’ connections to generational knowledge and strengths. By redesigning language learning environments and curriculum in ways that focus on personal, complex, and collective identities, as well as real-world issues that matter to youth, teachers can create spaces that reclaim heritage languages for future generations.

After this institute, participants will be able to:

  • Identify a range of assets that heritage learners bring to the language classroom;
  • Explain multiple ways to maintain and strengthen multilingualism, public voice, and literacy confidence;
  • Draw from youth-driven models to support heritage learners and facilitate community-connected learning;
  • Use multimodal tools and techniques to create heritage language specific texts and materials; and
  • Apply a variety of identity texts approaches to recognize, generate, and set goals for language reclamation and growth.

Instructors: Jenna Cushing-Leubner is an Associate Professor of Heritage/World Language, Bilingual/Bicultural Education and TESOL at the Universities of Wisconsin-Whitewater. She has been collaborating with heritage language educators and families to design curriculum, texts, and instructional practices for over a decade.
J. Eik Diggs is a PhD candidate at the University of Arizona and a licensed Spanish language and ESL teacher with over a decade of experience with heritage language curriculum design and teaching. Her language teaching weaves together ethnic studies, the arts, identity work, and youth participatory action research.
Aracely Thomas (guest instructor) is a PhD student at the University of Minnesota and a licensed Spanish language teacher with over a decade of experience as a heritage language teacher and program advocate.
Target Audience: This institute is designed for teachers of heritage language, world language, Indigenous language, and English as a Second Language learners at the middle school through postsecondary level. It is not designed for the elementary school level.
July 22-26, 2024
Where: University of Minnesota (in-person)