USING BORDERLANDS LITERATURE TO INCREASE INTEREST IN LITERACY IN THE HERITAGE LANGUAGE: TEACHER RESEARCH WITH LATINO/A TEENAGE STUDENTS
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This ethnographic action research documents my reflective practices as a teacher of Spanish for Heritage Speakers as I worked to engage my Latino/a students in literacy. In pursuit of this goal, I used borderlands literary topics, which deal with the dual experience of the immigrant or child of immigrants who lives a bicultural and bilingual existence, to guide students to explore their linguistic and cultural identities. I used several strategies to engage students, including independent reading, discussions of class readings, projects, movies and writing assignments. Throughout the process, I sought to acknowledge students' agency and draw on their perspectives, seeking their input and making use of reading topics that addressed the issues of socio-economic marginalization with which many students identified. As I lacked previous experience teaching Spanish for Heritage Speakers classes, I also sought the professional advice of five teachers who were veterans of the course. My experience suggests a connection between identity exploration and interest in reading in the Latino/a teenager, a finding with implication for how to engage the Latino/a student in literacy. My experience also sheds light on the roles played by the teacher of Latino students and the curriculum, as well as on the use of ethnographic action research as a way to become culturally responsive. This research adds to the body of knowledge about the experiences of 1.5 and 2nd generation students, including students of dual Latin American heritage, and emphasizes the heterogeneity within the Latino/a culture.