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Posts under tag: Spanish for Heritage Learners

January 15, 2015

RL Spanish for Heritage Learners program wins prestigious UO MLK award

(from L-R) Holguín, Quarles, Costales, León-Howarth, Darwin-López, and Zunterstein

(from L-R) Holguín, Quarles, Costales, León-Howarth, Darwin-López, and Zunterstein

This year the University of Oregon Equity Innovation Award will be awarded to the Spanish Heritage Language (SHL) program and its working and research group on January 21, 2015 at the annual MLK Award Ceremony at the University of Oregon. The SHL program has been honored with this prize for its “outstanding work in transforming, reorganizing and streamlining the experience of the growing numbers of Latino students who pursue studies of Spanish at the University of Oregon.”

The SHL program is an initiative of the UO Department of Romance Languages to meet the needs of the changing population of our university. This program is designed specifically for Spanish heritage language learners; students who have a personal, familial, or community connection to Spanish. It is comprised of a variety of courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and is taught by a diverse cross-section of faculty.

The working and research group from the UO SHL program lead by the director of the SHL program, Assistant Professor Claudia Holguín Mendoza, is composed of a team of committed, enthusiastic and dynamic educators, scholars, and staff. The SHL working and research group focuses its efforts on the development of sociolinguistic and language teaching theoretical approaches for the creation, and development of innovative pedagogical methodologies that fully acknowledge the socio-historical contexts and realities of our Latin@ heritage learners. We conceive of our SHL program and curricula development as efforts of social justice.

Join us in congratulating the SHL working and research team: Instructor Rafael Arias Anrango, Instructor and SHL Adviser and Instructor Amy Costales, Professor of Spanish Robert L. Davis, SHL Instructor Liliana Darwin-López, Assistant Professor Claudia Holguín Mendoza, Senior Instructor Kelley León-Howarth, Senior Instructor Heather Quarles, Adjunct Instructor Sebastián Urioste Guglielmone, Senior Instructor Nathan Whalen, and Senior Instructor Alex Zunterstein.

February 21, 2012

Holguín Mendoza researches language on the US-Mexico border

Assistant Professor of Spanish Claudia Holguín Mendoza, Ph.D., is the most recent faculty member to join the Romance Languages Department at the University of Oregon, is a native Mexican, born in Ciudad Juarez. She is the new coordinator of the Romance Language Department’s Heritage Speakers Program.

Holguín Mendoza characterizes her family as “the typical and complicated Mexican family with members who live in the US, Mexico and some who move between the two without considering the border that lies between the two.” She has always been an extremely curious and inquisitive observer of people. When she began her studies, her family had extremely limited resources and so she had no choice but to begin at the community college in El Paso, Texas studying English while she worked a full time job as an interpreter at a dental clinic. Her ultimate goal was to become fluent in the language so she could enter the University of El Paso and embark on an exciting journey investigating issues in cross-border sociolinguistics, their political and social implications, and the construction of identity through language.

Holguín Mendoza identifies two groups in Mexico that fascinate her, the “Fresas” and the “Nacos”. These are people who have adapted their language to create a new and emerging identity. “Fresas”, she says, are very much like “valley girls”; while “Nacos”, a term used mostly in a derogatory racist manner, are similar to what in the US many would call “red-necks.” She is deeply concerned with the abuse of women in her native Ciudad Juárez, how they are exploited, and how their lexical choices construct their identity with regard to gender and race. For example, the stereotypical “Fresas” have not only adapted their language, they wear colorful clothes and inhabit a highly racialized and ethnic style. This type of identity is also found, says Holguín Mendoza, in other countries such as the “Pitucas” in Peru or “Plásticas” in Ecuador. Even though they may copy intonations that sound very much like “oh my god” or use language peppered with heavy doses of “like” which she calls “influenced by California”, these women are creating something original and it represents a form of resistance. They are women who are marginalized by the societies they inhabit. On the other hand, the stereotypical “Nacos” are people considered to be “unrefined” or have a “total lack of taste” and generally perceived to be from more indigenous roots. However, both of these stereotypes have become commodified and commercialized in the same way that many other stereotypes in the US have, like “punks” or “emos.”

Holguín Mendoza also is quick to point out that 18% of the population of Ciudad Juárez have many financial resources at their disposal, while 80% live at or below minimum wage and are marginalized, representing families that have the woman as the head of the household who struggle daily with social injustice. She claims that Ciudad Juárez is the evidence of the devastating impacts that are still felt as a result of colonialism, neocolonialism and US imperialism. In her words, it represents the “tip of the iceberg” where you can witness the confluence of sweet and savory, being a center for neoliberal practices. She hopes that her research, which focuses on identity formations, socio-phonetic perception, and bilingualism, contributes to create more social consciousness of how elements of race, gender, and class combine to construct stereotypes that represent barriers to social justice.

Jon Jaramillo, Spanish Major



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