Curricular perspectives in the heritage language context: Assessing culture and identity

Sara Beaudrie, Cynthia Ducar, Ana Maria Relaño-Pastor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Spanish heritage language (SHL) programmes in post-secondary institutionsmust continue to redesign their curricula to accommodate the needs of a growing Latino population with a broad range of bilingual competencies. Despite the proliferation of research in heritage languages, pedagogically based research that incorporates students' voices is scarce. Though several studies have attempted to assess student attitudes and preferences at targeted levels within pre-established SHL programmes [see Beaudrie, S., & Ducar, C. (2005). Beginning level university heritage programmes: Creating a space for all heritage language learners. Heritage Language Journal, 3. Retrieved December 15, 2007, from; Beckstead, K., & Toribio, A. (2003). Minority perspectives on language: Mexican and Mexican-American adolescents' attitudes toward Spanish and English. In A. Roca & C. Colombi (Eds.), Mi lengua: Spanish as a heritage language in the United States (154-170). Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press; Feuerverger, G. (1991). University students' perceptions of heritage language learning and ethnic maintenance. The Canadian Modern Language Review/La revue Candienne des langues vivantes, 47(4), 660-677; Schwarzer, D., & Petro n, M. (2005). Heritage language instruction at the college level: Reality and possibilities. Foreign Language Annals, 38(4), 568-578], this study is the first to assess a complete SHL programme, with a focus on students' identity and culture. The researchers designed a lengthy survey to assess SHL pedagogy from the students' perspective. The survey was carried out on students of all the classes and levels of one of the oldest SHL programmes in the nation. Results attest to the fact that students' voices need to play a more crucial role in programme and curricular decisions. Though the insights provided in this article are specific to one particular SHL programme, it is our contention that surveys similar to this one can and should become a means of incorporating student perspectives to ensure the success of SHL programmes throughout the USA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-174
Number of pages18
JournalLanguage, Culture and Curriculum
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2009


  • Culture
  • Curriculum
  • Heritage language programmes
  • Identity
  • Spanish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


Dive into the research topics of 'Curricular perspectives in the heritage language context: Assessing culture and identity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this