Teaching Heritage Languages and Learners

July 29–August 2, 2019

Jenna Cushing-Leubner and Jennifer Eik

Thank you for your interest in this CARLA summer institute.
This institute is FULL for 2019! You may add yourself to the wait list.

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, unless bilingual options are available, youth seldom have access to expanding their home/community languages (and literacy in them) in schools, which are predominantly English environments. When students are given the opportunity to use, learn, and expand on their heritage languages, they are able to tap into an abundance of resources and knowledge.

Participants in this workshop will examine social justice topics, community-based learning for growing heritage language (literacy), and language arts approaches 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?
  • Heritage vs. Foreign Language Learning
  • Principles of Heritage Language Instruction
Day 2 Curriculum Development: Identity Texts
  • Macro and 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 Language Arts and Advocacy
  • Using a Language Arts Approach
  • State Seals of Multilingualism
Day 5 Teaching and Learning Together
  • Collaborative Unit/Lesson Creation
  • Heritage Language Teaching Cohorts

After this institute, you will be able 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 Assistant Professor in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and coordinator of the World and Heritage Languages Education licensure program. She has spent the last seven years working with teachers to create Spanish and Hmong heritage language classes and ESL classes that emphasize social justice, youth research, and transformative teaching. She is the creator and coordinator of a web-based certificate and additional licensure program in Heritage Language Education through UW-Whitewater.

Jennifer Eik is a licensed Spanish language and ESL teacher. She has developed and taught a multi-year 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. She is a PhD student at University of Arizona.

Target Audience
: This institute is best suited to secondary to postsecondary heritage language, foreign language, indigenous, and ESL teachers.


Quote MarksI am so grateful for the opportunity to attend this institute. I am excited to design my new class for Heritage Learners because now I have so many resources, ideas and supports. My instructors and colleagues were so helpful, collaborative and fun. This week has been a highlight of my career.
—Ellen Chirhart, 2018 Participant
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