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2009.11.02 > For Immediate Release
contact: Wendy Townley - University Relations
phone: 402.554.2762 - email: wtownley@unomaha.edu

Several Versions of Spanish Languages is Focus of Nov. 12 Lecture

Omaha - The Department of Foreign Languages and the Office of Latino/Latin American Studies (OLLAS) at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, with Wiley Publishers, will host a conversation on Spanish heritage language speakers at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12.

Dr. Kim Potowski, director of the Spanish for Native Speakers program at the University of Illinois-Chicago, will discuss the various kinds of Spanish spoken in America today.

Dr. Potowksi’s presentation will take place inside the Eppley Administration Building Auditorium on the UNO campus. The event is free and open to the campus community and the public.

Dr. Potowski has conducted a considerable amount of research about the linguistic characteristics of the Spanish language spoken by heritage speakers. In her presentation, she will discuss some of the characteristics of the Spanish of one specific group of Spanish heritage speakers – MexiRican Spanish speakers – who have one parent who speaks Mexican Spanish and another who speaks Puerto Rican Spanish.

Such exposure to two different dialects of Spanish, while a child is also becoming bilingual in English, results in a language contact phenomenon that Dr. Potowski will explore in her presentation.

“By the year 2050, it is projected that the Hispanic population will make up 24 percent of the total population of the United States,” said Dr. Anita Saalfeld of UNO’s Department of Foreign Languages. “This growing population presents new challenges and new opportunities in world language education.”

Traditionally, the Spanish classroom has been made up of second-language learners. However, a growing number of students enrolled in Spanish courses are heritage speakers of Spanish; that is, people who were raised in a home where Spanish was spoken, who speak or understand Spanish.

For more information, contact Dr. Saalfeld at anitasaalfeld@unomaha.edu or (402) 554-4841.

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