Spring 2015: Diasporic bilingualism: Latin@ Spanish and English abroad

I am very interested in the linguistic and educational experiences of "retornados", the (not always accurate) name for students raised in the U.S. who find themselves (back) in Mexico during their schooling years.

I taught a course about this topic at the University of Illinois at Chicago in Fall 2015. The course information is below. I am also collecting online articles and other material about this topic.

MW 3:00-4:15, room TBA

Professor Kim Potowski


For more than twenty years, researchers have been documenting the experiences of people who move from one country to another. Despite this being a frequent phenomenon between Mexico and Puerto Rico and the United States, relatively little work has examined the linguistic and educational experiences of youth raised in the U.S. whose families have returned to Mexico/Puerto Rico and who find themselves integrating into local schools.

In this course, in addition to reading works about diasporic communities, we will analyze a set of interviews carried out in Spanish and English with U.S.-raised students whose families returned to Oaxaca, Mexico. These interviews were collected by Professor Potowski and her students at the Universidad Autónoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca.  Our theoretical lenses will include Spanish/English linguistics (general proficiency, morphosyntax, phonology, etc.), classroom experiences, connections between heritage Spanish and heritage English education, and narratives of immigration. A main goal is illuminating connections between language, education, and identity among diasporic individuals.

Course taught in English, but knowledge of oral and written Spanish required.
Advanced undergraduates may contact the professor about permission to enroll.


List of readings


Anderson, Jull & Solis, Nin.  2014.  Los otros dreamershttp://losotrosdreamersthebook.com

Aranda, Elizabeth. 2007. Emotional bridges to Puerto Rico: Migration, return migration, and the struggles of incorporation. Rowman & Littlefield.

Clachar, Arlene.  2010.  El efecto de la comunicación mediada por computadora en la adquisición de los registros del discurso académico en español: Migrantes puertorriqueños de retorno en Puerto Rico.  Spanish in Context, 7 (2), 173–193.

Clachar, Arelene.  1997.  Ethnolinguistic identity and Spanish proficiency in a paradoxical situation: The case of Puerto Rican return migrants.  Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 18 (2), 107-124. PDF iconClachar_1997.pdf

Despagne, Collette. 2018. "Language is what makes everything easier": The awareness of semiotic resources of Mexican transnational students in Mexican schools. International Multilingual Research Journal, 13 (1), 1-14.

Escobar, Anna María & Potowski, K.  2015. El español de los Estados Unidos.  Capítulo 6 (el sistema gramatical) y capítulo 8 (la educación bilingüe en EE.UU.).  Cambridge University Press.

Fought, Carmen.  2013.  Chicano English in context.  New York: Palgrave MacMillan. 

Gutiérrez, Luis.  2013.  Still dreaming: My journey from the barrio to Capitol Hill.  Chapters 2-6.  New York: Norton. PDF iconGutierrez_Still_Dreaming_chapters 2-6.pdf

Hamann, E.T. & Zúñiga, V. (2011). Schooling, National Affinity(ies), and Transnational Students in Mexico. In S. Vandeyar (Ed.), Hyphenated Selves: Immigrant identities within education contexts (pp. 57-72). Netherlands: Rozenburg.

Mar-Molinero, Clare.  In progress.  U.S.-raised youth ‘returnees’ in Mexico. In K. Potowski (Ed.), The handbook of Spanish as a heritage/minority language.  Routledge. 

PEBF (Proyecto Educación Básica sin Fronteras).   2008.  Mientras llego a mi escuela.  Mexico, D.F.: Secretaría de Educación Pública.PDF iconMIENTRAS_LLEGO_A_MI_ESCUELA.pdf.

Perez, Gina.  2004.  Near Northwest Side story: Migration, displacement, and Puerto Rican families.  University of California Press

Smith, Patrick.  2006.  Transnacionalismo, bilingüismo y planificación del lenguaje en contextos educativos mexicanos.  PDF iconSmith_2006.pdf

Smith, Robert Courtney.  2006.  Mexican New York: Transnational lives of new immigrants.  University of California Press.

Stephen, Lynn.  2007.  Transborder lives: Indigenous Oaxacans in Mexico, California, and Oregon.  Duke University Press.

Thomas, W.P. & Collier, V.P.  2002. A national study of school effectiveness for language minority students’ long-term academic achievement: Executive summary.  Santa Cruz: University of California.

Zúñiga, V., Hamann, E. & Sánchez García, J.  (2008). Alumnos transnacionales: Escuelas mexicanas frente a la globalización.  Mexico City: Secretaría de Educación Pública.  PDF iconzuniga_etal_2009.pdf