Marginalization of Local Varieties in the L2 Classroom: The Case of U.S. Spanish
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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Marginalization of Local Varieties in the L2 Classroom: The Case of U.S. Spanish

  • Author(s): Burns, Katharine E.
  • et al.

The United States is one of the world’s most populous Hispanophone countries, with over 35 million Spanish-speakers. In addition, Spanish is the most widely taught foreign language in the United States, with more students enrolled in Spanish at the higher-education level than in all other modern languages combined. How, then, is the United States’ status as a top Spanish-speaking country reflected in the treatment of sociolinguistic variation in Spanish as a Foreign Language (SFL) curricula at the university level? This case study of a large, public university in the Southwest, which is home to an SFL program among the largest in the country, explores that question using a two-tiered approach. First, an analysis is conducted to examine the ideological underpinnings of how varieties of U.S. Spanish are presented in beginner and intermediate SFL textbooks used at the university. Second, focus groups of SFL instructors are conducted to gain insight into their beliefs and practices regarding language variety in the classroom. The study finds evidence of a systematic reinforcement of standard language ideology in the university’s beginner and intermediate SFL curriculum, with little attention paid to regional varieties of Spanish and, at times, an explicit de-legitimization of U.S. Spanish varieties in particular.

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