This week, we are happy to feature Professor Claudia Holguin from the Romance Languages Department. Professor Holguin advises LTS students on their MA projects, most recently LTS student Valeria Ochoa on “Integrating Service Learning into University Level Spanish Heritage Language Classes in the United States” completed this past summer. [Note: This term, Valeria is teaching the course SPAN 322 Introduction to Hispanic Linguistics.] In Winter 2018, Professor Holguin will be teaching the course SPAN 420/520 “Critical Pedagogies for Spanish Language Teaching,” which is open to interested LTS students. See below for more details.
Professor Claudia Holguin,
Dept of Romance Languages
What is your position at the University of Oregon?
I am an Assistant Professor of Spanish Linguistics in the Department of Romance Languages at the University of Oregon. I am also the founder and Director of the Spanish as a Heritage Language (SHL) program at the UO. I’m always happy to meet one-on-one with students and educators interested to learn more or get involved in the SHL program!
Some of the questions that guide both my work as a sociolinguist and my development of the SHL program include: What is the relationship between attitudes toward language use, language awareness, and identity construction? How do the politics of the Mexico-U.S. border shape language use and discourse? How can SHL pedagogy and courses strengthen Latinx students’ senses of identity and belonging within the campus community and broader U.S. culture?
What courses do you teach?
This winter (2018), I’m looking forward to teaching SPAN 420/520 “Critical Pedagogies for Spanish Language Teaching.” This Spanish-language course is open to any Spanish speakers/educators (undergraduate and graduate students) interested in learning more about how to implement Critical Language Awareness (CLA)—the study of sociopolitical and ideological contexts of language variation and discourse—into their pedagogical methods. Students in this course will get to explore a variety of pedagogical approaches designed to empower teachers of Spanish to engage their students in (1) critically identifying the social meanings embedded in language uses, and (2) developing broader and more profound transcultural and translingual communicative competencies. Together, we will also explore ways in which we can incorporate local community engagement into our own teaching practices.
In general, I teach courses on Hispanic linguistics and Sociolinguistics, as well as courses on Latinx and bilingual communities in the U.S., including: SPAN 428/528 Spanish Sociolinguistics in the US Borderlands, SPAN 322 Intro to Hispanic Linguistics, SPAN 308 Comunidades Bilingües, SPAN 248 Spanglish as a U.S. Community, and SPAN 228 Latino Heritage II.
What was your path to the University of Oregon?
I grew up in Guadalajara, México, the capital and largest city in the Mexican state of Jalisco, and also in the border city of Juárez, in the state of Chihuahua. My long time experiences on the U.S.-Mexico border have given me a transcultural awareness of different cultures and languages. I earned my B.A. in Linguistics from the University of Texas at El Paso and then my M.A. in Spanish Linguistics at the New Mexico State University at Las Cruces. I moved to Illinois to complete my Ph.D. in Hispanic Linguistics at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.
Later I moved to Eugene, Oregon when I was hired as an Assistant Professor at the UO. I was also hired to start a brand new SHL program within the Dept. of Romance Languages designed for heritage Spanish speakers—students who grew up speaking Spanish at home or in their communities. I very much enjoy all of my work, but especially my interactions and reciprocal learning experiences with students in the SHL program.
What is your connection to LTS students?
I am interested in creating connections between research in Sociolinguistics and its direct applications in order to improve pedagogical practices in language teaching. I also enjoy creating teaching materials that are accessible to students and educators alike. I am especially dedicated to developing open-source pedagogical approaches through which students are able to explore Spanish and Spanglish as integral parts of the cultural matrix of the U.S. In this way and in the courses I teach, I like to encourage students to engage in bilingual practices that reflect their individual sociolinguistic backgrounds, just as these practices naturally occur among most bilingual and multilingual speakers around the world.
What do you enjoy about working with graduate students?
I very much enjoy working with students at the graduate level conducting their own research in SHL pedagogy. Over the last five years, I have worked with graduate students conducting research in pedagogy and class observations. I am always especially excited to work with graduate students interested in action research and experiential learning.
What other projects are you involved in?
I created and developed the project Empowering Learners of Spanish, in collaboration with UO professors Robert L. Davis and Julie Weise. We have created three courses in the social sciences, two in Linguistics (SPAN 238 Spanish around the World, and SPAN 248 Spanglish as a US Speech Community) and one in History (HIST 248 Latinos in the Americas) that I have co-taught with Professor Weise. These courses are taught in English, but incorporate enough Spanish for students to develop an interest in continuing to study Spanish.
Right now, I’m conducting a follow-up research study to assess SHL students’ language production through our program. Through this ongoing research, I aim to provide concrete evidence that further supports my findings that critical pedagogical approaches positively influence the actual development of students’ critical linguistic awareness and sociopragmatic linguistic proficiencies.
Every Tuesday from 3 to 5 PM at the EMU, I participate in Tarea Time, an initiative of the Center for Multicultural Academic Excellence (CMAE) that focuses on mentoring by guiding students in the utilization of all student resources available regarding financial aid, scholarships, internships, career development, professionalization, and academic success.
In general terms, I am involved in collaborative research and institutional practices that seeks to build on and create coordinated visible connections across campus for mentoring our under-represented students in order to advance the work of equity, inclusion, and diversity regarding recruiting, retention, and on-time graduation success.
What advice do you have for future language teachers?
To future educators who will have the opportunity to teach and interact with Latinx and heritage speakers of Spanish: it’s important to find a pedagogical balance between validating your students’ language use as it exists when they first enter your classroom—for example, fully bilingual students, fluent Spanglish-speakers, students who speak but don’t feel confident to write in Spanish, etc.—at the same time as you provide students with sociolinguistic context around the realities of US expectations for language use in various settings. In this way, you can empower students from all backgrounds, but especially heritage speakers and Latinx students 1) to make their own choices around how and when they use particular forms and registers of language (including Spanglish) and, 2) to understand the real-world implications of those choices.
And my “advice” to current language students of all ages, as we say on the SHL webpage:
Bienvenidos, Spanglish students! Si vivir between different languages es lo tuyo, cruzar fronteras is your reality, and you’re not afraid de ver más allá de tu nariz, this is the perfect program para ti!
Spanish as a Heritage Language (SHL) Team