Heritage Language Learners of Spanish

Review: En Comunidad

Find the book and sample chapters on Heinemann’s website.

Many teachers follow my blog interested in how I structure my classes for heritage language learners of Spanish. For several years I have added my voice to the chorus promoting pleasure reading as the foundation of HLL courses. When pleasure reading is a core practice (rather than an occasional side project) instruction in unfairly heterogeneous classes, with students reading anywhere from 1st grade to college level in the same classroom, can be more effectively differentiated while opening a crucial space in the curriculum for students to explore their own interests.

Nonetheless I have fallen silent lately as I struggle with how to lead my students to build their own cultural identities. Emerging cultural identities are as important as literacy if my students are to develop a secure foundation in a multi-cultural society. That is, if we want our students to grow up bilingual and eventually raise bilingual children, we need to pay close attention to developing their identities now. What I truly need as a teacher is a critical approach that makes me more aware of educational practices that silence my students’ voices, an approach that starts engaged with their families and communities rather than presenting something that they perceive as outside of ‘their real lives’.

Few books have excited me as much as En Comunidad. This is not dense academic text but rather powerful, useful ideas, illustrated through examples with real students & teachers. These ideas have pushed opened doors that I have been trying to pull open. So many concepts spring to life that have been latent in my practice, but have been difficult to articulate and develop. Don’t be concerned that this book is designed for grades 3-8 bilingual classrooms; this is an exciting text for any teacher working with bilingual students.

I would like to provide the opportunity for other teachers who teach courses dedicated to heritage language learners of Spanish to delve deep into this beautiful text. Using funds generated from the sale of my own book about teaching heritage language learners, I have set aside funding to purchase ten copies of En comunidad for teachers who cannot get funding from their school district for professional development texts.

Update: The ten copies have already been distributed. It’s a great book though and I highly recommend buying a copy!!

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