University of Texas at Austin

Institution: The University of Texas at Austin
Department: Spanish & Portuguese
Contact Person:  Dr. Jocelly Meiners (

About the Program: The courses in our Heritage Spanish track focus on the development of bilingual and bicultural literacies through the analysis and use of the heritage language. One of the primary goals of our 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. Our courses are centered on the histories, traditions, practices, and aesthetics of the culturally rich Hispanic community in the U.S., which includes a wide-range of nationalities, ethnicities, and a generational variety of speakers of Spanish.

Courses offered in the heritage program:

  • SPN 604 develops students’ critical thinking skills and appreciation of Hispanic culture, and it seeks to revitalize and expand heritage learners’ 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 311J is designed to provide heritage learners with the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of Hispanic cultures and sociopolitical realities and develop a metalinguistic understanding of the language. In this course, students study and analyze spoken, oral, and written Spanish in an academic setting; and continue to improve their strategic Spanish speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills; build sophisticated and advanced vocabulary (including terminology to discuss language); as well as evaluate dialectal, social, and contextual variations.
  • SPN 314J has a special focus on further developing students’ writing and speaking skills. Students work on three large writing tasks that cover cultural topics relevant to heritage learners. Each writing task is composed of several steps including research, interviews, an outline, a rough draft, revisions and peer reviews, a final version, an oral component and class discussion. The course also involves readings, shorter writing assignments, oral activities, and discussions on important cultural topics and current events.
  • SPN 327N is a bridge course between the lower-division Spanish heritage language courses and upper-division courses in culture, literature, and linguistics. SPN 327N 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.