Understanding Heritage Language Learners’ Critical Language Awareness (CLA) in Mixed Language Programs

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Despite the prevalence of mixed language programs across the United States, their impact on the unique socio-affective needs of heritage language (HL) students has not been researched sufficiently. Therefore, the present study examines HL learners’ critical language awareness (CLA) in a mixed Spanish undergraduate program at a small private university in the eastern United States. Sixteen HL learners enrolled in different Spanish upper-level courses participated in the study. Respondents completed an existing questionnaire to measure CLA, which includes 19 Likert-type items addressing different areas, such as language variation, language ideologies, bilingualism, and language maintenance. Overall, the results show that learners in the mixed language program under study have “somewhat high” and “high” levels of CLA. The increased levels of CLA in learners who had completed three courses or more in the program, coupled with their strong motivation, suggests that this program contributes positively toward HL students’ CLA. However, respondents’ answers also reveal standard language ideologies, as well as the personal avoidance of code-switching. Based on these findings, two areas that could benefit from a wider representation in the curriculum of mixed language programs are discussed: language ideologies and plurilingual language practices.


© 2021 by the authors

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Gasca Jiménez, Laura, and Sergio Adrada-Rafael. “Understanding Heritage Language Learners’ Critical Language Awareness (CLA) in Mixed Language Programs.” Languages 6, no. 1 (February 27, 2021): 37. doi:10.3390/languages6010037.



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