UNO’s Department of Foreign Languages and Literature is excited to announce the launch of our online graduate certificate in Teaching Spanish to Heritage/Bilingual Learners.
This 18-credit certificate program, which can be completed entirely online, is designed to train educators and affiliated professionals working with bilingual/heritage speakers of Spanish about theoretically based and practically appropriate pedagogies relevant to these populations. Fundamental concepts include understanding and meeting the needs of heritage/bilingual students, curriculum and materials design, and differentiated instruction.
The Spring 2022 semester will offer FLNG 8960 Heritage Language Pedagogy (online, asynchronous).
Laura Walls, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature and a faculty member for the new certificate program says that language teachers have traditionally been trained to teach Spanish as a foreign language.
"Because these practices are fundamentally different from the pedagogical practices for bilingual/heritage speakers, these teachers can sometimes find themselves unprepared to meet the needs of this population," Walls says. "Therefore, this program coaches them on the theoretical foundations of heritage/bilingual speakers, and the appropriate application of current pedagogical practices."
Students completing this certificate will learn about the fundamental concepts of heritage/bilingual pedagogy including curriculum and materials design, differentiated instruction, critical approaches to heritage language pedagogy, and content-based learning.
"I’m most excited about working with bilingual/heritage language teachers and professionals," Walls says. "As a teacher and heritage speaker myself, I enjoy working with others in the field whose goal is not only to make sure that heritage/bilingual speakers are successful, but who are passionate to advocate for these learners."
The United States has one of the largest Spanish-speaking populations in the world. According to the U.S. Census' 2019 ACS Supplemental Estimates, there are over 15.3 million Spanish speaking households and over 41.7 million Spanish speakers over five years old in the United States. In Nebraska alone, 7.6% of the population speaks Spanish (2018: American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates). After English, it is the most spoken language in the state. As the population of bilingual/heritage speakers increases throughout the country and across the state of Nebraska, so does our responsibility as educators to address their needs, which differ from those of monolingual English-speaking students and students learning a second language.
Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.