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Spanish language instruction for native speakers: A single case study of a Midwest high school program

Christy J Hargesheimer, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


In Nebraska, and throughout the Midwest, increasing Spanish-speaking student population in high schools is causing educators to rethink their instructional practices. How to accommodate the language development needs of the new students, both in English and in maintenance and development of their first language, is an emerging issue. ^ The purpose of this study was to describe development and implementation of a class of Spanish for Heritage Speakers in a Midwest urban high school. A single case study was the qualitative methodology chosen to describe a relatively new program, with the goals of adding to the limited body of research, giving voice to students, and informing other school districts about this emerging academic discipline. ^ Classroom observations, interviews with students, teachers, and administrators; and collection of documentary artifacts provided the data for this study. Findings centered around pedagogical beliefs, curricular issues, teacher training, administrative support, and total school environment. It was found that, in this program, curriculum design in theory and in practice were at variance, with little observable classroom accommodation to meet the unique needs of this student population. The teacher received no specialized training for this class. Administrators at both building and district level were open to launching the new program, supporting it both philosophically and materially, but the level of nurturing support was minimal thereafter. Students reported general satisfaction with the class and course content. The total school environment further enhanced students' language and conceptual skills. ^ Recommendations included varying instructional strategies, making changes in the curriculum, providing training for teachers in language arts methodology, and formalizing the evaluation of the program. ^ The study was significant in that, unlike other studies, it included student voices. The Midwest location and high school focus further differentiate this study from the main body of research, which is concentrated on lower grades in more traditionally Hispanic-populated regions. Further investigation is needed to more systematically define Spanish for Heritage Speakers instruction as a unique academic discipline. ^

Subject Area

Education, Language and Literature|Education, Bilingual and Multicultural|Education, Secondary

Recommended Citation

Hargesheimer, Christy J, "Spanish language instruction for native speakers: A single case study of a Midwest high school program" (2002). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3074078.