Date of Award

Fall 12-1-2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

Department

Education and Human Development

First Advisor

Frank Rossi

Abstract

The number of Heritage Language Learners (HLLs), specifically those who speak Spanish, is more prominent in the researcher’s school system. Language educators have wondered if the Foreign Language (FL) classroom is the correct placement for HLLs, or if there is a curriculum that could be put in place to better benefit the HLLs. Based on surveys completed by four second language teachers, there were many problems they faced when it came to how to teach HLLs and what they (both educators and HLLs) have been experiencing in the classroom. The specific needs of HLLs was not known by many educators nor how to properly educate the HLLs based on their needs.

The research shows that HLLs face many needs when they are learning their heritage language in a classroom that is not focused on their specific language needs. Along with researching the needs of HLLs, it was also imperative to focus on who HLLs are, how educators can develop the language skills of HLLs, what programs have shown to be effective and how to integrate culture and identity issues HLLs may experience. The researcher’s investigation revealed that HLLs need to be in a separate language class, a Heritage Language Arts (HLA) class. Creating a curriculum for a HLA class would be the most beneficial for the HLLs at West Irondequoit Central School. Using the research as a guide for what to include in a HLA curriculum as well as focusing on the needs of HLLs, the researcher creating a HLA curriculum with the intended goal of utilizing it for Grade 7 and Grade 8 HLLs. As a result of the research and the creation of the curriculum, a professional development session was also developed to inform other educators of FL of the needs HLLs have as well as provide examples of how they can adjust their curriculum to incorporate different activities and methods to benefit HLLs.

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