Spanish Heritage Language Learners in Study Abroad across Three National Contexts

Authored by: Tracy Quan , Rebecca Pozzi , Shannon Kehoe , Julia Menard-Warwick

The Routledge Handbook of Study Abroad Research and Practice

Print publication date:  June  2018
Online publication date:  June  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138192393
eBook ISBN: 9781315639970
Adobe ISBN:


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Despite the increasing number of US students in study abroad (SA) programs (Institute of International Education, 2016) and the growing population of Spanish heritage language learners (SHLLs) in the US, little is known about how SHLLs experience and internalize the SA experience. According to Shively (forthcoming), the percentage of US Latino/a students who are expected to embark on SA in order to connect with their heritage—linguistic, cultural, religious, ethnic, and/or national—is expected to grow in upcoming years. SA research has often focused on Anglo-American, middle-class students who are assumed to be L2 learners of a ‘foreign’ language with no personal or familial connection to the target language (TL) or culture (Kinginger, 2013). Meanwhile, the ways in which SHLLs interact with the SA context given their heritage language (HL) proficiency and linguistic identities have been under explored. Very little research has considered whether it makes a difference for SHLLs to study in their family’s country of origin as opposed to another Spanish-speaking country. As such, further inquiry into SHLLs’ experiences abroad in both heritage and nonheritage contexts is necessary in order to meet the needs of this growing population.

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