Second International Conference on Heritage/Community Languages

The 2nd International Heritage/Community Languages Conference held at UCLA on March 7 and 8 was a great way to start spring break. With up to 9 panels at a given time it was difficult to choose which to attend. The plenary sessions on both days brought together the over 200 participants (among them, Team Yale: Angela, Hasmik, Nelleke, Quang and Seungja) and reminded us all of the interests and goals we share.

The panel in which I participated, “No soy de aquí, ni soy de allá: From Fragmented to Multifaceted” was the direct result of a project created with Cecilia Milán (Oxnard College) and Martha Corona (National University) during the NHLRC 2013 Teacher Workshop. The project, a cohesive teaching unit based on selected passages from Sandra Cisneros’ novel Caramelo, addresses topics relevant to the heritage language class: border crossing, bilingualism, family and identity. Each one of us focused on one skill: Martha presented vocabulary related to immigration and customs, Cecilia created a well-structured oral-presentation guide and I developed a sequence of activities that took the students from comparatives, to similes, to “as if” and finally to conditional sentences. To round off the unit, we invited our NHLRC Workshop colleague Alejandro Lee (Central Washington University) to present on writing. Our collective sense was that the presentation was well-received (we were tweeted by Steve Welsh, from Columbia University’s Language Resource Center!).

I return from the conference with practical ideas and idealistic goals. I am particularly intrigued by Elana Shohamy’s description of linguistic landscapes and the collaborative Columbia/Arizona State University Hispanidades project. I will investigate how I might incorporate these in my heritage language classes in the future, so stay tuned.

My thanks to the CLS for providing funding that made it possible to attend the conference, and to my colleagues Oscar and Margherita for taking on my students during my absence.


In case you are wondering, the weather in LA was sunny and warm and lunches were held on the terrace.

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