Exploring language ideologies in action: An analysis of Spanish Heritage Language oral corrective feedback in the mixed classroom setting

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Description

This qualitative study follows an instructor and four Spanish Heritage Language (SHL) learners in an elementary-level, mixed Spanish course at a community college over the course of 11 class visits.

This qualitative study follows an instructor and four Spanish Heritage Language (SHL) learners in an elementary-level, mixed Spanish course at a community college over the course of 11 class visits. In studying how language ideologies shape oral corrective feedback (oral CF) practices, data were collected through ethnographic observations (field notes, researcher memos), classroom audio recordings, and semi-structured interviews (student, teacher). Specifically, this study analyzes (1) language ideologies prevalent in the classroom context in relation to the conceptualization of errors, (2) the instructor’s goals for oral CF, (3) how the instructor provides oral CF and in what contexts, and (4) how the mixed class environment relates to oral CF.

To do so, the data were analyzed via a bifocal approach in coding interview and classroom discourse (Razfar, 2003) and engaging in Critical Discourse Analysis (van Dijk, 2016) informed by frameworks in Linguistic Anthropology (Irvine, 1989; Kroskrity, 2004, 2010; Leeman, 2012) and Second Language Acquisition (Ellis, 2009; Li, 2017; Lyster & Ranta, 1997). The findings demonstrate how oral CF becomes ideologically charged in a classroom context primarily designed to impart foreign language instruction. Under the guise that SHL learners’ varieties represent negative characteristics (e.g., low socioeconomic strata, Mexicaness, immigration), oral CF is used to eradicate their Spanish varieties. Findings also illustrate the (in)congruency of the instructor and learners’ perceptions of oral CF and what takes place in the classroom. In some cases, SHL learners demonstrated language pride and resisted the imposition of a foreign variety but reported hegemonic beliefs about their own varieties.

Exemplifying how the instructor and SHL learners contribute to the complex dynamics of ideologization of oral CF, this study advocates for the adoption of Critical Language Awareness frameworks (Martínez, 2003; Leeman, 2005) in mixed language classrooms that encompasses this practice (e.g., focus-on-form instruction). Additionally, in acknowledging that teachers and educational institutions play a key role in the (re)production of dominant language norms, this study calls for the creation of instructional guidelines for oral CF as a pedagogical practice. Such guidelines must include critical discussions with students about the relationship between “correct,” “correcting,” and “being corrected” and asymmetrical power relationships.