My research lies within the fields of sociolinguistics and applied linguistics. I address the interactions between linguistic and cultural practices in contexts in which Spanish and English are in contact with each other in the United States. I am currently developing a book project on ideology and identity in Spanish heritage language learning, and I also conduct research on Spanish language maintenance and community-based language education. My work in these three areas is described below.
Language Ideologies and Linguistic Identity in Heritage Language Learning
This book project addresses the construction and negotiation of language ideologies and linguistic identities in Spanish heritage language classrooms and considers the ways in which heritage language classroom discourse is embedded in a wider social world. Drawing on ethnographic research on the discursive practices of students and instructors of university heritage language courses, I examine how the participants construct and negotiate discourses about language and language-related identities through different kinds of interaction within and outside of the classroom. In particular, I consider the role of competing discourses on the value of the Spanish language and certain varieties of Spanish in the ways students position themselves and are positioned as certain kinds of language experts and novices. Illustrated by cases studies of students with diverse linguistic backgrounds and reasons for studying Spanish, I highlight the relationship between classroom discursive practices, the practices of the communities in which students participate outside of the classroom, and students’ engagement in language learning.
The project builds on my dissertation study and my previous publications in Spanish in Context, Language and Intercultural Communication and the Journal of Language, Identity and Education.
Spanish Language Maintenance and Linguistic Attitudes in Kansas
In addition to my book project, I am also conducting research on Spanish language maintenance within Latino families in Kansas, with a focus on the relationship between family language policy, local educational contexts and individuals’ perceptions of the value of Spanish in their lives. This study aims to better understand the transmission of the Spanish language from generation to generation within Spanish-speaking families of Mexican origin in Kansas. The primary objectives of the study are: (a) to explore the reasons for the decisions that participants make about the use of certain languages and dialects within and outside of the home, (b) to investigate the ways that they conceptualize the role of the Spanish language, and particular ways of using Spanish in their lives, and (c) to examine the linguistic practices and implementation of family language policy within a small number of Spanish-speaking families who reside in Wichita and western Kansas.
This research is funded by a University Research/Creative Projects Award (URCA) from Wichita State University.
Community-based language education
As a language teacher, I am interested in finding ways to make students' learning more meaningful by connecting my course curricula to local communities. One way to do this is by creating class activities based on recordings of interviews with native speakers of the target language who live in the local region, as I describe in this article. My students also participate in service projects in their local communities, including volunteering as classroom assistants and tutors at Horace Mann Dual Language Magnet School and as interpreters at JayDoc Community Clinic. I am currently engaged in research on students' experiences participating in these programs.