It's been a long time since I wrote my last blog post, and I think one is overdue. As I reflect on this semester as a part-time teacher and full-time PhD student, I realized that I need to be better about sharing the research I am engaging in and how it connects to practice. That is one of the major reasons I decided to leave my full-time heritage Spanish teaching position and I don’t want to lose sight of that. This semester I have been engaging in research on Critical Language Awareness (CLA) and I will share my experience with CLA and how I have been engaging with this research.
My colleague Megan Marshall (also a PhD student at UIC) and I had the pleasure of presenting at La Cosecha in Albuquerque this year and our topic was Language Ideologies in the Classroom. Here’s a brief summary of our presentation:
As a field we have transitioned from deficit-based approaches to teaching heritage Spanish (e.g. así no se dice, eso no es español) to asset-based approaches where the home language variety is perceived as valuable and often times used as leverage to acquire a standard variety of Spanish (e.g. otra manera más formal de decir “haiga” es “haya”). This transition is great, but I agree with scholars like Glenn Martinez, Jennifer Leeman and Claudia Holguin (and others that I can’t remember at the moment-I blame my kids for this) that we need to include CLA in our heritage Spanish curriculum. Some of the goals of CLA are to: (1)Empower students to see themselves not as deficient users of academic Spanish but as proficient language users with a broad (and growing!) linguistic repertoire and (2) CLA encourages the use of sociolinguistic tools to critically analyze the social values ascribed to different language varieties to empower students to make and defend their own linguistic choices. CLA promotes conversations with students for example about the fact that languages are standardized for social and not linguistic reasons and that “standard” forms represent the language norms of socially powerful speakers and groups.
So how do I have these conversations with my students? In the next few weeks, I will share a few short activities that Megan and I created and/or found, that can help you include CLA in your heritage Spanish classroom. For this week, I will share how to talk about “haiga” and “haya” with our heritage Spanish students..
What most of us are doing now: “Haiga” es una forma más informal de decir “haya”. Cuando escribas, usa “haya” y en tu casa o en tu habla diaria puedes usar “haiga”.
What CLA proposes: Si estudiantes, “haiga” and “haya” have socially ascribed values that deem one more valuable than the other, but linguistically, they both have the same value. I encourage you to use the variation that you feel more comfortable using in your speech, but know that there will be people out there that will judge your use of “haiga”.That is why I am going to share some history behind the use of “haiga” and “haya” and then you will have the agency to make your own linguistic choices and also DEFEND them:
Brief history behind the use of “haya” and “haiga”:
During the Renaissance & Golden Age (16th & 17th centuries) “haiga” and “haya” were used in free variation→ the desire to have a national language in Spain pushed for the codifying of the Spanish language= print→ this created a pressure to avoid language variation and therefore only one, either “haya” or “haiga” could survive. In this case the people in power chose “haya”.
Some additional history of how this variation began:
Claudia Holguín Mendoza (2018) Critical Language Awareness (CLA) for Spanish Heritage Language Programs: Implementing a Complete Curriculum, International Multilingual Research Journal, 12:2, 65-79.
Penny, Ralph. Variation and Change in Spanish, Cambridge University Press, 2000.
Leeman, J. (2018). Critical language awareness in SHL: Challenging the linguistic subordination of US Latinxs. In K. Potowski (Ed.) Handbook of Spanish as a Minority/Heritage Language, (pp. 345-358). New York: Routledge.
Martínez, G. (2003). Classroom based dialect awareness in heritage language instruction: A critical applied linguistic approach. Heritage Language Journal, 7(1) 1-14.