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2013 Master's Level Graduate Research Conference

Session I - Session II - Session III

Assessment of Heritage Language Students

Testing of heritage speakers presents issues specific to the needs and characteristics of this diverse group of students. According to Jester and Peña (2002), the language development of children who grow up speaking/hearing two different languages differs from the development of monolinguals. This research claims “language tests for bilinguals should reflect these differences in development (p.2). For example, many heritage language students have different content vocabulary in their two languages and Jester and Peña claim “From a testing perspective, this can result in underestimation of concept knowledge when testing in only one language at a time, or even when testing in both languages” (p.4). This research paper will aim to explore the challenges in assessing Spanish heritage language learners in their heritage language and the necessary considerations when creating and using assessments with these students. The information that serves as the basis of this research paper comes from interviews with Spanish Language Arts and content teachers who teach a variety of Spanish heritage language learners. They will discuss: What types of assessments do you use in your classroom? What types of considerations do you make when creating tests for your Spanish heritage speakers? Are you ever surprised at how your heritage speakers perform on assessments? Etc. The results of this research have implications for the classroom. Teachers can use this information to reflect on their writing and implementation of assessments for their Spanish heritage speakers. The results aim to help minimize underestimation of heritage speakers’ abilities by drawing attention to ill-fitting assessments.

Presenter: Leigh Sanna (The College at Brockport) --
Topic: Education & Bilingual - Panel
Location: 122 Hartwell
Time: 9:30 am (Session I)