Sociolinguistics Lunch: Laura Villa (Queens College, CUNY)

NOV 16, 2018 | 2:00 PM TO 4:00 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue




November 16, 2018: 2:00 PM-4:00 PM




Laura Villa (Queens College, CUNY), presents, 

Heritage Language Teaching and the Neoliberal Turn in U.S. Higher Education

This presentation deals with the teaching of heritage languages, Spanish in particular, from three different perspectives. First, I review the sociopolitical context in which the scholarly field of heritage language teaching and research emerged and unfolded in the US. In particular, I examine the shift in public discourse from an approach to multilingualism as a problem to a view of languages as military and economic strategic resources for the nation (Bale 2014; García 2005; Ricento 2005). Second, I contrast the discourse of the economic value of multilingualism in U.S. educational spaces – whose goal is to promote languages other than English and to empower minorities – with the experiences of U.S. Latinxs at work – whose multilingualism is systematically decapitalized and exploited – (Duchêne 2011; Martín Rojo 2016; Urciuoli 2008; Villa & Villa 2005). Third, I look into how different pedagogical approaches to teaching heritage languages may either challenge or further exacerbate the prejudices faced by Latinx students on the basis of their linguistic practices – which largely interweave with other forms of discrimination rooted in race, gender, national origin, and socioeconomic status (Flores & Rosa 2015; Leeman 2005; Martinez 2003). Finally, I will explore the intersections of these three trends by considering the neoliberal turn of higher education in the U.S. which not only impacts research activities and teaching practices but also advocates diversity while reproducing social inequality.