Spanish Heritage Language Learners: A Review of Literature Analyzing Their Preference of the English Language

Hilda Guillen-Ramos, Tonya Huber


The increased number of Spanish Heritage Language (SHL) speakers in American schools has called for the need of new research focused on SHL students, their parents, their teachers, and a profound analysis of best instructional practices for this individualized group of students. The purpose of this thorough analysis of peer-reviewed literature is to evaluate language programs for the growing SHL student population in elementary schools. A careful look into this growing population will help evaluate the educational programs provided to SHL students such as the Dual Language (DL) immersion program and the Transitional Bilingual Education program (TBE). This review addresses why students walk into an elementary classroom as an SHL and English language bilingual and subsequently become monolinguals as they progress in their elementary school years. Recognizing the factors that lead to a student’s language preference can assist parents, teachers, and the education system in developing an academic structure that will promote bilingualism and biliteracy for SHL learners.

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