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Teaching Heritage Speakers: Best practices

Teaching Heritage Speakers: Best practices

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Teaching Heritage Speakers: Best practices

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  1. Teaching Heritage Speakers: Best practices Seventh Heritage Language Institute UIC, June 18, 2013 Maria M. Carreira, Ph.D. California State University, Long Beach

  2. Core principles of HL teaching and curriculum design • Orient the curriculum around the “typical” HL learner • Build in pathways for individual learners • Build on learners’ knowledge of the HL and HC, focusing on the big ideas (Olga Kagan) Oral -> written Informal -> formal Personal -> impersonal (public) Focus on the big ideas, have realistic expectations • Other (Latino specific): Mind the gap

  3. In a nutshell: Keep your eye on the learner


  5. Definitions:Who is a heritage language learner? • Narrow definitions – based on proficiency • Broad definitions – based on affiliation

  6. Example of a narrow definition “An individual who is raised in a home where a non-English language is spoken, who speaks or merely understands the heritage language, and who is to some degree bilingual in English and the heritage language” (Valdés, 2001, p. 38)

  7. Example of a broad definition Heritage language learners are individuals who “…have familial or ancestral ties to a particular language and who exert their agency in determining whether or not they are HLLs (heritage language learners) of that HL (heritage language) and HC (heritage culture) (Hornberger and Wang, 2008, p. 27)

  8. Learners who fit the narrow definition also fit the broad definition

  9. In high school I was one of very few Latinos. My friend and I were called the "Mexican kids". This was always funny to me because my Dad's family always told me I was American. In school I was labeled Mexican, but to the Mexicans, I am an American. I am part of each, but not fully accepted by either. In high school, I was considered Mexican because I spoke Spanish but I was considered "Pocho" by my Dad's family because my Spanish was not up to their standard. It's this weird duality in which you are stuck in the middle. Latinos are often told that they are not Americans but also that they are not connected to their heritage. You take pride in both cultures and learn to deal with the rejection. You may never be fully embraced by either side. That's why you seek out other people like yourself. Socializing with people who share a common experience helps you deal with this experience.

  10. Broad + narrow definitions = two orientations to HL teaching Linguistic needs (narrow definition) Affective needs (broad definition)

  11. To fill in the details… • Research on the “typical” HL learner

  12. Factors in heritage language development • Order of acquisition of the languages (HL first, followed by Eng., both lags. at the same time); • Age of acquisition of English (ages 3-5, 6-10) • Language use at home (only the HL, HL + Eng., English only); • Schooling in the HL; • General exposure to the HL e.g. time spent abroad, media use, demographic density of local HL speakers;

  13. Knowledge of the HL: It boils down to exposure • Order of acquisition: Simultaneous bilingual < sequential bilingual; • Age of acquisition of English: The later the better • Home use: Only HL < HL + English < Overwhelmingly English • Schooling: No schooling < schooling (a variety of types) • Other exposure (media, church, peers, family, travel abroad, social clubs, etc.)

  14. Typical HL learner (from NHLRC Survey, Carreira and Kagan, 2010) • Used their HL exclusively until age 5, when they started school (+) • Has visited their country of origin once or twice; (+) • Listens to music, watches soap operas, and attends religious services in their HL (not much reading) (mostly +); • Little to no schooling in the HL (-); • US born (?)

  15. Linguistic strengths and needs • Fairly fluid in the informal registers of the HL • Low literacy (limited command of embedding – compound sentences, little to no command of the academic registers, limited vocabulary) • Grammar areas in need of attention: those solidified after age 5 – Aspect, the subjunctive, perfective verb forms, vocabulary (Montrul, 2008, 2011);

  16. The elements of the broad definition:Social + affective needs

  17. The elements of the broad definition:Social + affective needs

  18. Socio-affective needs(from the NHLRC survey) • Has positive associations with his HL, but also some insecurities; • Is a “hyphenated American” (e.g. Arab-American) • Wants to learn more about his roots; • Wants to connect with other members of his/her community; • Enjoys using his/her HL to help others; • Would like to take professional advantage of his/her HL skills (only Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese speakers)

  19. Social/affective orientation of the curriculum • Responds to HL learners’ affective needs– i.e. the need to explore issues of identity, builds on learners’ positive associations, combats negative associations; • Responds to HL learners’ social needs – i.e. the desire to connect with other US speakers; • Responds to HL learners’ professional goals (not all languages);

  20. Now we have a plan Linguistic needs (narrow definition) Socio-affective needs (broad definition)

  21. Core principles of HL teaching and curriculum design • Orient the curriculum around the “typical” HL learner • Build in pathways for individual learners • Build on learners’ knowledge of the HL and HC Oral -> written Informal -> formal Personal -> impersonal (public) Focus on the big ideas, have realistic expectations • Other (Latino specific): Mind the gap

  22. Why is this not enough?

  23. Traditionally, language teaching has been “what centered” “What centered” = “curriculum centered” Teachers start at the front of the curriculum

  24. The what-centered view with L2 learners

  25. The curriculum-centered classroom

  26. But what if…

  27. And...

  28. The curriculum-centered approach in a mixed class (HL + l2 learners)

  29. The curriculum-centered approach with HL learners (An HL class – all HLLs)

  30. A better alternative: Focus on the “who” The learner

  31. “Who” centered teaching

  32. Why do we need learner-centered teaching? • HL learners differ from each other and from L2 learners with regard to key pedagogical issues: - linguistic abilities (in the HL and in English) - literacy skills - affective needs - goals for their HL

  33. Variation in the classroom contextThe NHLRC Survey One-track program: L2 and HL learners together (mixed classes) Dual-track program: Separate classes for L2 and and HL learners (HL classes) Type 1: Only one HL course (most common); Type 2: Two levels of HL instruction;

  34. Classes with HL learners are always heterogeneous • Specialized HL classes; • Mixed classes (HL + L2); Question: How do you deal with learner variation?

  35. Core principles of HL teaching and curriculum design • Orient the curriculum around the “typical” HL learner • Build in pathways for individual learners • Build on learners’ knowledge of the HL and HC Oral -> written Informal -> formal Personal -> impersonal (public) Focus on the big ideas, have realistic expectations • Other (Latino specific): Mind the gap

  36. A fitting metaphor for HL teaching

  37. What not to do

  38. Don’t… • Ignore diversity (i.e. exclude learners who don’t fit the model) I did not give particular consideration to HL--they are usually a very small segment of the class. (The programs survey)

  39. Don’t… • Enforce the paradigm/status quo at all cost: (i.e. force all learners to conform to the curriculum) (Name of book) does not address the needs of HL but it does a good job at the beginning level where the majority of our students take the (name of language) as a general language requirement and where we have less HL (15%) than at more advanced levels.

  40. The “what” centered view of teaching enforces the paradigm at all cost

  41. The “who” centered curriculum for the typical HL learner ignores diversity

  42. Build in pathways for all learners

  43. Do… Program level: Mitigate the problems of diversity through smart curriculum design and placement. 1) Design courses that are tailored to the local student population and that make linguistic sense for them (orient teaching around the typical learner) 2) Use placement to build maximally homogeneous classes. Class level: Accept and deal with diversity through Differentiated Teaching (DT). Build in pathways for all learners.

  44. Differentiated Teaching (DT) In differentiated classrooms, teachers begin where students are, not the front of a curriculum guide. They accept and build upon the premise that learners differ in important ways…In differentiated classrooms, teachers provide specific ways for each individual to learn as deeply as possible and as quickly and possible, without assuming one student’s roadmap for learning is identical to anyone else (Tomlinson, 2000:2).

  45. Three tools of differentiation • Agendas – lists of tasks students must complete within a specified period of time. • Centers and stations • Exit cards • Visual checks

  46. Sample agenda from my class (an HL class) Date due: (usually in 1-2 weeks) Work to be completed: • Workbook # 7, 8, 9, 10 • Blackboard, #1, 2. Must be completed with a grade of 90% or better. • Textbook, read “xxxxx” and answer questions 1-7. Use a spell check. • Prepare a “Sum it up” card for this unit.

  47. Instructional practices • Agendas • Centers and stations: Repositories of resources which support independent learning. • Exit cards • Visual checks

  48. How I use centers • Virtual spaces (Blackboard) • Computer graded • Work can be repeated for a better grade • Work is done outside of class • Work is done independently by students • Work is self-paced (the workbook can also be a source of center activities)

  49. Instructional practices • Agendas • Centersand stations • Exit cards: Short assignments that students must complete and turn in before leaving class • Visual checks

  50. Sample exit cards • Formulate a question about something that remains unclear to you about today’s class; • Identify something that you already knew about today’s lesson and something that is new to you; • Describe an “Aha!” moment in this lesson; • Explain a contribution you made today to group work; • Summarize a comment someone else made that was useful to you