Teaching Heritage
Languages and Learners

July 10–14, 2017

Jenna Cushing-Leubner and Jennifer Eik

Teaching heritage learners is not the same as teaching learners of a foreign language. Heritage languages are languages other than English that are spoken in homes, communities, and extended families. Although many of our students come from vibrant multilingual contexts, these languages (and literacy in them) are often not developed early on in schools. When students are given the opportunity to use, learn, and expand on their heritage languages, they have an abundance of resources and knowledge they can tap into.

Participants in this workshop will examine social justice topics, community-based learning for growing heritage language (literacy), and authentic assessments for heritage language development. Participants will collaborate; connect experiences of heritage teachers and learners to research on multilingual development; and learn how to bring communities, classrooms, and digital storytelling together to create powerful heritage language learning environments.

Program Schedule (9am-4pm)

Day 1 Knowing Our Languages and Learners
  • Who are Heritage Language Speakers/Learners?
  • Foreign Language vs. Heritage Language
  • Principles of Heritage Language Instruction
Day 2 Curriculum Development: Identity Texts
  • Macros-Micro Approaches
  • Identity Texts
  • Multimodal Texts
Day 3 Curriculum Development: Communities & Content
  • Content, Project, and Community-Based Learning
  • PhotoVoice: Multimodal, Arts-Integrated Texts
  • Youth-Led Participatory Action Research & Critical Service Learning
Day 4 Assessments
  • Authentic Assessments
  • State Seals of Multilingualism
Day 5 Teaching and Learning Together
  • Collaborative Unit/Lesson Creation
  • Heritage Language Teaching Cohorts

This institute will help you learn to:

  • Recognize who our heritage language learners are, and identify ways to maintain and strengthen heritage languages;

  • Understand various youth-driven pedagogical models to support heritage learners and facilitate school-community engagement and partnerships;

  • Utilize multimodal tools and techniques to create heritage language specific texts and materials;

  • Apply identity texts as an approach to showcase and support language growth; and

  • Generate ways to support heritage learners in your classroom.


Jenna Cushing-Leubner is a teacher educator and doctoral candidate in Second Language Education at the University of Minnesota and has spent the last three years working with teachers to create English as an additional language classes and high school Spanish heritage language programs that emphasize social justice, youth research, and transformative teaching.

Jennifer Eik is a licensed Spanish language and English as an additional language teacher. She has developed and taught a high school Spanish as a Heritage Language program in South Minneapolis, Minnesota. She anchors her language teaching in intra-ethnic studies and social justice content, and focuses on developing young people who are strong in their multiple identities and backgrounds.

Target Audience
: Elementary to postsecondary heritage language, foreign, indigenous, and ESL teachers.


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Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA)
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