Implementing A Spanish for Heritage Speakers Course in An English-Only State: A Collaborative Critical Teacher Action Research Study

From Section:
Research Methods
Jun. 20, 2010

Source: Educational Action Research, Volume 18, Issue 2 (June 2010), pages 197- 212.
This article examines how critical teacher action research (CTAR) supported the process of developing and implementing a Spanish for Heritage Speakers (SHS) course in a high school, notwithstanding a low percentage of heritage language learners.
The purpose of the article was to explore how a teacher was able to navigate the secondary school structure, community/national Discourse, and her own classroom pedagogy to implement the Spanish for Heritage Speakers course.

Data collection included teacher and teacher-educator-researcher journals, classroom observations, school board minutes, and student course work.
These data were coded and analyzed into phases that represent the teacher's process of developing and implementing the course.

Data demonstrated that this teacher's changing practice and involvement in program development were influenced by: her experiences with her students and her desire to provide more effective instruction for them; her enrollment in teacher education courses at the university; decisions by the administration; and discourses prevalent in the school and community/nation.

Data suggested that teachers, school and district administrators, teacher-educators, and families in the community all played significant supporting roles in the effort to create a successful heritage language course at the secondary level.
By focusing on outcome, a critical aspect of CTAR, the teacher and teacher-educator worked collaboratively to change classroom practices and curriculum in this secondary school to better support heritage Spanish speakers.

Unlike some teacher action research projects that focus only on teacher classrooms or teacher education institutions, this collaborative research project generated recommendations for secondary teachers and administrators as well as teacher-training institutions.
These include the importance of administrative support, community involvement, framing language as social and dynamic, and course development in teacher development programs to teach heritage languages.

Updated: Jan. 17, 2017
Action research | English (second language) | Language | Spanish | Teacher educators | Teacher role | Teachers