Advances in Spanish as a Heritage Language is a pioneering work because it brings together linguistic and educational studies, perspectives, methodologies and debates, in an effort to find connections among these fields and thus better serve the academic community devoted to the study of heritage languages. This work gives a unique chance for both beginner and experienced scholars in various disciplines to get an objective and thorough review of the current state of Spanish, the heritage language par excellence in the United States. One major advantage is that the findings of this work can also be applied to other heritage languages in the world, for example to Polish in the United Kingdom or to Turkish in Germany. The sixteen chapters that comprise this book are divided into three thematic units; the first two present studies on language acquisition and pedagogy, and the third is devoted to studies that have incorporated findings from both disciplines, expanding the field in new directions.
The introductory chapter serves as a review of topics about the current state of Spanish in the United States. It identifies those areas that applied and formal linguists, as well as language specialists, need to address in the future. After the introduction, the first unit presents new findings on heritage language acquisition across several linguistic disciplines. Jason Rothman, Ianthi Maria Tsimpli and Diego Pascual y Cabo present a critical review of the central themes of heritage language acquisition from a formal view (for example, who qualifies as a bilingual), and offer some directions on how linguistic evidence can serve instructors in the classroom. Almeida Jacqueline Toribio and Barbara E. Bullock present their “Spanish in Texas Corpus,” an innovative project that allows specialists to examine semantic innovations that commonly take place in situations of language contact. Rajiv Rao’s study describes the nuclear intonational phonology of heritage and native speakers when producing statements and questions, which are critical in distinguishing pragmatic meaning. Jill Jegerski, Bill VanPatten and Gregory D. Keating examined the bilingual interpretations of ambiguous relative clauses. They found that comprehension among early bilinguals presents advantages due to an earlier exposure to the target language. The closing chapter by Silvina Montrul analyzes the loss and erosion of dative case marking with psych verbs, such as gustar ‘to like’ among second-generation Mexican-American immigrants.
The second unit reviews current trends on heritage language pedagogy, identifying key debates in the field as well as providing tips on the best teaching practices and proper administration of heritage language courses. Kim Potowski describes the most important gaps that need to be addressed by the community of educators (e.g., the creation of a specific state certification for the teaching of heritage languages). Sara M. Beaudrie offers a review of studies devoted to placement and assessment in the heritage language classroom. She describes practical ways for proper student identification. Another topic of great interest is described by Maria M. Carreira, who proposes a flexible model for teaching Spanish in mixed classes. The last two studies in this section take a more sociolinguistic perspective. María Luisa Parra explores the effects of heritage language classes and the factors that lead to the formation of the learner’s Latino identity, such as the use of Spanglish. Ana Sánchez-Muñoz closes this unit highlighting the importance of these courses in the “healing” (205) of speakers’ negative views towards the minority language.
In the spirit of adapting present-day pedagogies to better serve the needs of heritage learners in the near future, the last unit of the book presents a selection of emerging trends within language instruction. Marta Fairclough starts the unit with a review of the main advances in teaching practices, such as awareness of the learners’ varieties or the use of online technology. Kelly Lowther Pereira provides instructors with a how-to guide for integrating a service learning component into their courses, something that has become a norm in recent years because it strengthens the ties with the heritage community and fosters positive language attitudes...