The triple bullying of U.S. heritage speakers and how to counter it

Speaker: Dr. Kim Potowski (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Date: Thursday, September 7, 2023
Time: 5-6pm (ET)

Many young people raised in the U.S. speaking languages other than English suffer what I call a triple bullying. First, unfortunately too many people in our mainstream English-speaking monolingual majority (which is close to 80% of the country) insist that other languages are unwelcome in public spaces. We can call this the “You’re in America, speak English” contingent. Second, their own families make fun of the ways they speak the home language; in Spanish, many get called “No sabo kids” and are made to feel “less Latino” than others. Finally, prescriptivist, monolingualist teachers put the final nail in the coffin of these young people’s linguistic self-esteem by telling them that they speak their heritage language incorreectly.
What other realities can we envision for our U.S.-raised heritage speakers? How can school programs and individual teachers in K-12 and on college campuses counter these toxic discourses? We look at mechanisms that lead to linguistic prestige and, conversely, to stigmatization and repression. We conclude with concrete strategies for teachers to show respect for their students’ ethnolinguistic identities while simultaneously engaging them in rich language development.

This webinar is an ACTFL Heritage Languages SIG Webinar. For more information and registration, please visit the ACTFL website.