Section I: Sociolinguistic acquisition

The first section of the volume explores how HSs of Spanish develop sociolingüístic competence and critical language awareness of variation during and after a period abroad. In addition to examining speakers’ awareness of regional features, the chapters in this section highlight the extent to which HSs of Spanish may choose whether to align themselves linguistically with the host communities and the implications of this choice. The section begins with chapter 1, a theoretical chapter by Geeslin, Gudmestad, Hasler Barker, Kanwit, Long, and Solon, which discusses sociolingüístic competence as it pertains to HSs, reviews empirical research on the development of sociolingüístic competence in an SA context, generates hypotheses for how HSs may encounter dialectal variation, and articulates a plan for future research in this area. In chapter 2, George and Salgado-Robles investigate the retention of the ability to style shift between the second person plural vosotros and ustedes among HSs of Mexican descent who returned to the United States after studying in Madrid, Spain. The study finds that the HSs who completed an SA program that included a service-learning component retained the style-shifting ability longer than those who had completed a traditional SA program, perhaps due to stronger connections made with madrileños during service learning. In chapter 3, Peace explores the extent to which HSs of Mexican descent studying abroad in central Spain adopt local features in conversations with Spanish university students. In these conversations, HSs not only rarely accommodate to Peninsular Spanish, but they also avoid stigmatized features of their home variety of the language, presenting themselves as educated speakers of a Mexican variety of Spanish. In chapter 4, Escalante examines the individual differences in accommodation to /s/-weakening in coastal Ecuador among three HSs based on language background and use of Spanish at home, the communities of practice cultivated during the sojourn abroad, and the participants’ awareness of /s/-weakening. Using case-study methodology, Escalante analyzes how those differences may have led to the variable adoption of /s/-weakening among the three focal participants.

Section II: Pragmatics

This section offers an overview of theoretical and empirical research on pragmatics, or “how-to-say-what-to-whom-when” (Bardovi-Harlig, 2013, p. 68), during an SA experience. Specifically, it addresses (1) the challenges HSs may face when certain linguistic phenomena (such as speech acts and politeness) of the host variety differ from that of the HSs’ home variety and (2) the varying ways members of the host community might perceive HSs based on their pragmatic choices. The section begins with a theoretical discussion in chapter 5 in which Shively proposes a research agenda for heritage language pragmatics in SA. This chapter identifies key research questions, state-of-the-art methods, and theories pertaining to HS pragmatics in SA, and discusses how pragmatics instruction can meet the needs of HSs of Spanish. In chapter 6, Pozzi, Escalante, and Quan explore the impact of such pragmatics instruction related to requests, apologies, and the use of vox on the pragmatic competence of two HSs of Mexican descent studying abroad in Mendoza, Argentina. The study finds that, following explicit instruction, the focal HSs expanded their pragmatic repertoires through increasing their metapragmatic awareness with respect to the use of vos while abroad.

Section III: Identity

This section explores key theoretical issues, empirical research, and pedagogical implications of HS identity in SA. Chapter 7, the theoretical chapter by Leeman and Driver, presents sociocultural frameworks that regard identity as fluid, socially constructed, and negotiated, as well as the ways in which this framework is particularly relevant for HSs in SA. It focuses on issues such as the racialization of Latinx students, attitudes toward linguistic variation and “non-standard” varieties, and tensions between claimed and ascribed ethnoracial, linguistic, and national identities. It concludes with recommendations for SA program design based on critical approaches. Chapter 8 by Menard-Warwick, Kehoe, and Palmer examines how three HSs exercise agency during classroom interactions in a Guatemalan language school through challenging existing teaching materials, participating actively in classroom discourse, and presenting on topics relevant to their career aspirations. This chapter highlights the successes and challenges faced by HSs as Latinx students studying in Spanish-speaking countries, emphasizing the multiple and shifting affiliations HSs hold (and are perceived to hold) as they use their heritage language in new Spanish-dominant contexts.

Section IV: Linguistic development

This section addresses the understudied and undertheorized area of linguistic development of HSs during a sojourn abroad in a Spanish-speaking context. Chapter 9, the theoretical chapter by Escalante, Viera, and Patino-Vega, begins by describing the different approaches used for studying language learners’ linguistic development, particularly the development of their oral and writing skills. The authors then review empirical research in these areas for HSs and L2s in SA and at-home contexts and recommend fertile areas for future studies on writing and orality in SA. Chapter 10 by Marques-Pascual examines the complexity, accuracy, and fluency of the writing of 22 advanced HSs after a semester or a year abroad in Spain. Findings indicate that although HSs did not expand their lexical diversity during SA, they did increase their syntactic complexity and fluency in written narratives. In addition, participants in year-long programs improved their grammatical accuracy. While these results suggest that SA may be beneficial for the improvement of HSs’ writing abilities, additional work is needed to better understand the linguistic development of HSs abroad overall.

Section F; Program design

This section provides innovative ideas for incorporating pedagogical interventions, such as conversation partners and service-learning opportunities, that leverage and include the linguistic and cultural knowledge of HSs of Spanish prior to and during SA. Chapter 11, the theoretical chapter by Holguin Mendoza and Taylor, addresses the need for SA programs to consider the unique abilities and perspectives of HSs in SA program design, especially with respect to language proficiency and the use of non-standard language varieties. They propose strategies for applying a critical language awareness framework to SA programming in order to create critical, experiential learning opportunities in order to foster students’ interactions with real-world social justice issues while providing them with tools to negotiate racial and social ideologies related to language use. Chapter 12 by Marijuan proposes the implementation of pre-departure interactions in which HSs act as conversation partners for L2 learners and HSs who are preparing to study abroad. She argues that such sessions provide a critical space of dialog between minority and majority students and among minority students themselves, which may benefit both HSs who study abroad and those who stay home. In chapter 13, Jimenez Jiménez finds that HSs who participated in service learning at a nursing home in Spain increased their linguistic awareness through expanding their knowledge of vocabulary and idiomatic expressions and gaining appreciation for register and dialectal variation. In addition, he finds that HSs expanded their understanding of the history and culture of the host country while gaining a sense of civic engagement. These chapters demonstrate the positive influence that programmatic innovations designed to enhance HSs’ experiences abroad may have on both HSs and the host communities in which they are immersed.


This volume concludes with an afterword written by renowned scholar of SLA and SA, Cristina Sanz, who contextualizes the volume’s chapters within past and current findings regarding HSs in SA, points out trends and challenges of conducting such research, and proposes future directions for exploring topics pertaining to linguistically and culturally diverse students, particularly HSs, in immersion contexts.

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