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Empowering Learners of Spanish


Photo by Manuel Barroso Parejo, CC 

Department of Romance Languages, University of Oregon

This collection of activities based on Critical Pedagogies serves to introduce students to a range of concepts in sociolinguistics and critical inquiry into language ideologies. The activities are written in both English and Spanish, and resources are also in both languages.

Working in two languages will allow students to reproduce the linguistic practices of bilinguals. Heritage learners of Spanish should find these practices familiar, and students learning Spanish as a second language will benefit from the scaffolding of using some English. Language development for both profiles of students can be enhanced with the techniques of “intercomprehension”, outlined in the “Guide to intercomprehension” in the resource section below.

Instructors can decide what language(s) students should use to participate and respond (Spanish, English, Spanglish), depending on their local context, student level, and course objectives. This is an unordered list of activities; there is no implied sequencing.

For questions, suggestions, and/or comments, please contact us:

Claudia Holguín Mendoza, University of Oregon

Robert L. Davis, University of Oregon

Munia Cabal Jiménez, Western Illinois University

Julie Weise, University of Oregon

Kelley León Howarth, University of Oregon

Heather Quarles, University of Oregon



Guide to Intercomprehension

Strategies for increasing comprehension when reading in a second or heritage language (in this case, Spanish). This general guide can be used alongside other activities to support students’ reading.

 El léxico decolonial

Inventory and definition of concepts crucial to the understanding of the sociopolitical and historical contexts of speakers of a given language—in this case, the many varieties of Spanish.

Can-Do statements for Critical Metalinguistic Awareness

Performance statements to measure four major areas of critical metalinguistic awareness, with sub-areas that show progress towards the major goals.


Introductory Lesson: An overview of Sociolinguistics

A short introduction to basic concepts of Sociolinguistics, and the role of prescriptive organizations like the Real Academia Española. (English version)

La sociolingüística

Introduction to basic concepts of language variation, the effects of language contact, and role of prescriptive organizations like the Real Academia Española. (Spanish version)

Alfabetos ilegales, alfabetos imaginados

Critical look at writing systems and how they encode language ideologies.

El corrido “El deportado”

Overview of the historical context of Mexican-American immigration and deportation; study of how regional variation in language is used in a popular artistic medium to communicate identity and show solidarity.

Spanish as a second language in popular culture

Study of attitudes towards Spanish and language learning by examining on-line media (video and user comments).

La historia del español

The study of the origin of the Spanish language; recognition of the impact of bilingualism in the history of the language and its varieties. Validation of the use of its many varieties.

Gramática intuitiva

The study of linguistic prescriptivism and descriptivism; a reflexion on how linguistic prescriptivism influences language ideologies and our attitudes about our own and others’ usage.

La resistencia a través de la música

This unit of three lessons focus on teaching history, culture, and linguistic variation of Latin America and the U.S. using music.

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