Re-Positioning Latino Heritage Language Learners: The Case of one adolescent's experiences in two different pedagogical spaces.
Merrills, Kayra Zurany
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To improve the education of heritage language learners, more research is necessary to understand alternative educational practices and learning contexts that tap into and further develop heritage language learners' bilingual competence. This inquiry investigates how one Latino heritage language learner (HLL), Yolanda, experienced distinct opportunities to use and develop her heritage language as she participated in a bilingual extra-curricular program and in a world language classroom. Drawing upon Positioning Theory (Davies & Harré, 1999; Harré & Moghaddam, 2003; Harré & van Langenhove, 1999), this study explored how her positioning promoted languaging and language use. Drawing from sociocultural theory, this study applied the concept of languaging to understand language learning (Swain, 2002, 2005, 2006; Swain et al, 2009). I use the term languaging to describe metalinguistic discourse in which students explain or discuss a linguistic problem to others or the moments when learners talk aloud to themselves to mediate understanding of language (Swain, 2006). This study provides an analysis of how the HLL's different positionings influenced the amount of languaging and the type of language (Spanish, English or both) she decided to use. This single-case study incorporated both qualitative and quantitative methodologies with exploratory purposes. Methods of data collection included observations, field notes, audio-recording, video-recording, and student interviews. Data analysis was guided by interactional ethnography, conversation analysis and grounded theory. I also used Dedoose software to code transcripts and identify the co-occurrence of languaging and positioning. This study found that a bilingual extra-curricular program afforded Yolanda positionings that promoted a higher quality and quantity of opportunities for languaging and use of linguistic multicompetence due to collaborative opportunities with linguistically diverse students. This study contributes to research on HLLs by focusing on classroom practices that promote languaging and use of linguistic multicompetence. This study has implications for teachers and teacher education by providing a rich description of an academic space that re-positions a heritage language learner as a multilingual expert and learner.