Resources for teaching Spanish as a heritage language

"What placement exam/textbook should we use for our heritage speaker course?" 


Are you looking to (1) separate HL from L2 students, (2) determine which level of an HL program they belong; or both? 

very short, written paragraph often answers both questions. After a while, an experienced evaluator can look at a paragraph and decide (1) and (2) in literally 10 seconds. At the bottom of this page is an article about the process we went through (Potowski, Parada, Morgan-Short 2012).


I highly recommend these steps in this order:

From Beaudrie, Ducar & Potowski (2015), Heritage Language Teaching: Research and Practice. McGraw Hill.


STEP 1: First, figure out who your heritage speakers are. Be able to describe what they can already do in Spanish and what they cannot yet do.

STEP 2: From the list of things they cannot yet do well in Spanish, choose your learning goals. Your list might look very different from someone else's, even if based on the exact same students.

STEP 3a: How many courses will there be? Which one will fulfill the foreign language requirement (if there is one)? 

STEP 3b: Which textbook(s) or other materials match most closely the goals you established in Step 2? The Table of Contents from several commercially-published textbooks appear below.

STEP 4: Design your placement test using items from Step 3b -- that is, from your curriculum.



University course

Spanish 440, "Theory and methods in teaching heritage speakers."  University of Illinois at Chicago.


Online resources

COERLL at the University of Texas at Austin

Teaching Heritage Languages: An Online Workshop.  Eight self-paced online tutorials designed for teachers of world and heritage languages.  Free access after signing up for a free account.

REACH: A website with several excellent modules relating to the Spanish language and Spanish-speaking countries, as well as Hispanic culture in the US.

SNS teachers networking site:  This is a fantastic & free online community where you can interact with other SNS teachers. 

El Lexile Framework for Reading asesora el nivel de lectura de los alumnos, tanto en inglés como en español. 

A writing rubric, in Spanish, from the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory:

Spanish spellchecker workshop.  An MS Word document that helps students learn how to use a Spanish spellchecker.

Spanish language arts standards from WIDA:

Sybil Alexandrov's blog, Yale University:

University of Texas at Austin online site for teachers to share ideas:

List of cases of linguistic repression in the USA:

Un folleto del Center for Applied Linguistics, titulado "Why start and maintain an SNS program?"

Fundamentos de la enseñanza del español a los hispanohablantes en los EEUU.  K. Potowski, 2005.  Resume los puntos principales sobre la enseñanza del español a los alumnos de ascendencia hispana en los Estados Unidos. Presenta un breve panorama de los principales grupos hispanos en los EE.UU., detalles sobre los conocimientos lingüísticos y necesidades académicas de estos alumnos y principios y aproximaciones pedagógicas concretas.

A debate about the term "Spanglish": 

Carreira & Beeman's excellent book, VocesExcerpts about how and why people lose their Spanish, and a review I wrote of the book. 

Video, "If you ask me about my Spanish" by Melissa Lozada Oliva: In English and in Spanish 


For teachers

Potowski, K. & Varela, A. (Expected Fall 2021). Enseñar el español a los hablantes de herencia: Cultivando jardines.

Potowski, K.  (2005).  Fundamentos de la enseñanza del español para hispanohablantes en los EE.UU.  Arco Libros. PDF iconPotowski_Arco_scan.pdf

Beaudrie, S., Ducar, C. & Potowski, K.  (2014).  Heritage language teaching: Research and practice.  McGraw Hill. 

To order e-book:

To order print book, two options:

1) Call customer service at (800) 338-3987 and use ISBN: 1259518280

2) Online: Go to Search for “Heritage Language Learners”. Select the “Express Book” option (or customize what chapters you want in a custom eBook or print book version). To log in, use the email address/password that you use to access any McGraw Hill Education system (Centro/Connect, etc) or request a login from the your McGraw rep.

Facebook groups:


For students

The Center for Applied Linguistics' annotated bibliography of high school and college SNS texts.  This was last updated in 2001, so a few newer texts are not included, such as Conozcámonos and Sí se puede


Table of Contents for college SNS textbooks:

En mi opinión, más o menos van en este orden en cuanto al nivel lingüístico (de sencillo hasta avanzado):

Conozcámonos       Conozcamonos.pdf
Sí se puede         si_se_puede.pdf
Nuestro idioma, nuestra herencia    nuestro_idioma_herencia.pdf
Nuevos mundos  Nuevos_mundos.pdf
Entre mundos    entre_mundos_TOC.pdf
Conversaciones escritas  Potowski_Conv_escritas_preface.pdf 
    Also see

Otros títulos:
La lengua que heredamos    LA LENGUA QUE HEREDAMOS TOC.pdf
Palabra abierta  palabra_abierta.pdf
Manual de gramática y ortografía  manual_gram_ort.pdf



Table of Contents for high school SNS textbooks: 

Tesoro_literario_TOC.pdf Galería    

6th through 8th grade:

Antología (VHL)

Anecdotas series from One Way Education

Santillana: Yabisi (6th), Espanol 7 (7th) and Espanol 8 (8th).


Students use an online platform and other tools to create, share, and discuss information collected in Hispanic neighborhoods near them. Often includes profound reflections of the shared cultural, linguistic, sociopolitical and historical experiences between distinct regions of the United States.  


The Center for Integrated Language Communities (CILC) and the Institute for Language Education in Transcultural Context (ILETC) offer this platform for heritage Spanish language telecollaboration that fosters connections among instructors of heritage Spanish and/or Latinx Studies courses across the US. Teleplaza allows instructors to post a telecollaborative project and find a partner for it, or to respond to a call for partnership already posted on the portal. Projects may range from short-term collaborations to semester-long partnerships, and can be set up using synchronous or asynchronous communication technologies. These projects can be integrated into language or content courses to support a variety of learning objectives, such as proficiency development, literacy development, and/or the exploration of specific content.


Curriculum for K-8 Spanish as a heritage language

Article published in Hispania about this curriculum: PDF iconHispania_2008_Potowski_etal.pdf

Click here for the actual "learning scenarios."




National Symposium on Spanish as a Heritage Language

Spanish in the U.S. Usually research oriented, but there are often practical sessions for teachers.

The National Heritage Language Resource Center has many resources in addition to a yearly week-long institute.  
Yearly summer institute:  A combination of research/theory and practical sessions.

Linguistic Association of the Southwest (LASSO). 



"Why start and maintain a heritage speaker program?" Produced by the Center for Applied Linguistics.  Concise, in English, useful for administrators.  PDF iconCAL_sns_brochure.pdf



PowerPoints of Kim Potowski's presentations

(Some video recordings are available under the tab "Video") 

"U.S. Spanish: Myths and facts."  Association of Two-Way & Dual Language Education, (ATDLE), Sacramento, CA, June 24, 2014.  Office presentation iconPotowski_2014_Spanish_Myths_CA_two_way.ppt

"La enseñanza de español a los hablantes de herencia," Instituto Cervantes N.Y., 22 marzo 2014.

"Teaching Spanish to heritage speakers: Pedagogical and administrative considerations."  Arizona State University, 3rd annual conference on Hispanic & Lusophone Linguistics.  Office presentation iconPotowski_ASU_2014_2.ppt 

"No child left monolingual: Best practices in teaching heritage speakers."  Chicago Public Schools, Saturday April 26, 2014 PDF iconCPS_2014_Potowski_NCLM.ppt.pdf

"No child left monolingual."  Michigan Association of Bilingual Education, May 9, 2014.  PDF iconCPS_2014_Potowski_NCLM.ppt.pdf


I have presented and/or consulted at over 50 colleges, universities, and schools around the U.S. regarding teaching Spanish to heritage speakers. Please see here for a list.