This past weekend was the annual Iowa World Language Association fall conference. While not a newbie to the conference, it was a new experience for me as I presented (eeek!). I also took my first step to not be a fly on the wall by meeting up with fellow tweeter and blogger Sra. Allison Wienhold! Sra. Wienhold wrote a fabulous review of her take-aways from the conference on her blog, Mis Clases Locas.
There were many interesting sessions, but the “Ways to Deal with the Challenges Presented by Spanish Heritage Speaker Students” session by Juan Carlos Castillo of the University of Northern Iowa fascinated me! Here’s why:
- The beginning of the session began with a discussion on if there’s really a difference between a heritage and native speaker. Juan Carlos thinks there’s not a difference – but rather there is a difference in the speakers’ fluency. Interesting thought!
- Juan Carlos shared some information about UNI’s Spanish Retrocredit Program for Heritage Speakers of Spanish. Here’s the description of the program from his handout: “A students who is a heritage speaker of Spanish, and who takes Advanced Writing or an equivalent course designed for heritage speakers, and receives a B or higher in this course, will receive Credit for the following UNI classes: Elementary Spanish 1; Elementary Spanish II; Intermediate Spanish; Oral and Written Spanish; Advanced Conversation and Reading. Courses will appear on transcripts as credit; no grade will be assigned.” WOW! What an amazing opportunity that needs to be shared with heritage speakers! That amounts to 21 credits. I also think it’s also worth referencing this program when discussing the need for a heritage class with your administrators.
- Juan Carlos provided fantastic lists of both textbooks and reading materials for heritage speakers. He recommended Nuevos Mundos out of the textbooks. When asked if the textbooks come with the ancillary tools we language teachers are so accustomed to having (mostly comprehension-based activities), he said that these textbooks were more focused on grammar concepts and on content. The reading list came from a banned book list from a particular state that tried to ban Spanish in the classroom. I bet you want to check that reading list out now!
I hope to share more information on other sessions in the near future!