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FAQ about SHL

En short, nuestro gentleman quedó tan inmerso en su readin that él pasó largas noches –del sondáu y sonóp–, y largos días –del daun al dosk– husmeando en sus libros. Finalmente, de tan poquito sleep y tanto readin, su brain se draidió y quedó fuera de su mente. Había llenado su imaginación con everythin que había readieado, with enchantamientos, encounters de caballero, battles, desafíos, wounds, with cuentos de amor y de tormentos, y with all sorts of impossible things, that as a result se convenció que todos los happenins ficcionales que imagineaba eran trú y that eran más reales pa’ él que anithin else en el mundo.

from Don Quixote de La ManchaMiguel de Cervantes, First Parte, Chapter Uno, Transladado al Spanglish por Ilán Stavans

What is a heritage language?
Who is a heritage learner of Spanish?
What is Spanglish / US Spanish?
What is the difference between SHL classes and other SPAN classes?
How do I get my Spanish level tested?
Do SHL classes satisfy the B.A. language requirement?
Can non-heritage learners take SHL classes?

What is a heritage language?
A heritage language is a language that is acquired by individuals raised in homes or communities where a dominant language, such as English in the United States, is not spoken or not spoken exclusively.

Who is a heritage learner of Spanish?
Spanish heritage language learners are individuals who have a personal, familial, or community connection to Spanish within a context in which Spanish is a non-majority language (such as in the US). Often Spanish heritage language learners grew up in Spanish-speaking households or communities, but received the majority of their formal education in the dominant language (for the US, English).

What is Spanglish?
“Spanglish” is a term used to name a variety of linguistic phenomena. For some, it is a continuum of English and Spanish elements commonly used by English-Spanish bilinguals in US Latino communities. It may also refer to what is in fact simply the variety of popular Spanish spoken within the US. “Spanglish” is sometimes used pejoratively (e.g., by linguistic purists who decry US Spanish as a corruption of an idealized norm from another country), but in Romance Languages at UO, we use the term with pride to describe a uniquely US form of communication that is a badge of cultural identity among Spanish-English bilinguals.

What is the difference between SHL courses and other Spanish courses offered in the Department of Romance Languages?
The Department of Romance Languages offers two types of lower-division Spanish courses:
Spanish as a Heritage Language (SHL): 218, 228
Spanish as a Second Language (SL2) 101, 102, 103, 111, 112, 201, 202, 203

Spanish Heritage Language (SHL) courses are designed for students who have grown up in a Spanish-speaking household or community. Typically, SHL learners have developed higher oral proficiency than written proficiency in Spanish. Courses strive to meet the unique needs of SHL learners by including a special focus on issues of English-Spanish bilingual identities in the US, as well as by providing focused training in Spanish academic writing development. For complete course descriptions, jump to the SHL Courses page.

Spanish as a Second Language (SL2) courses assume that students started their acquisition of the language relatively late in life (during or after adolescence) and do not necessarily have a familial or community connection to the language. Their previous exposure to the language, if any, has been in formal, academic contexts. For a complete description of the SL2 course offerings, please visit the Romance Languages Department website.

Some students can begin their UO studies in Spanish at the 300 (upper-division) level.  Please contact the SHL advisor at for more information.

How do I get my Spanish level tested?
You should contact the SHL program advisor if you have particular questions regarding your personal experience as a heritage learner, your proficiency level, or the courses we offer. If you are a second-language learner (SL2), visit the University Testing Center where you can take a brief placement test. The Testing Center also offers the CLEP test, which grants credits for language ability and can help you decide at what level to begin your study of Spanish at UO.

Do SHL courses satisfy the B.A. language requirement?
You can meet the UO B.A. language requirement by passing SPAN 203 (SL2) or SPAN 228 (SHL) with a C- or higher. It is not necessary to take any prior courses; heritage students can begin their study of Spanish in SPAN 228 if they are placed at that level. Note: Regardless of student placement level, the SHL program recommends that students consider taking the complete sequence (SPAN 218 and SPAN 228) to maximize your learning experience in our program.

Can I take an SHL class if I am not a heritage student?
(Ex: ‘I did not grow up in a Spanish-speaking household or community, but I spent a year abroad as an exchange student in high school and feel confident in my Spanish-speaking abilities.’ )

This program is designed for students who grew up speaking Spanish at home or within a Spanish-speaking community, and who received very little or no academic training in Spanish. Since study abroad programs involve formal Spanish language study, your experience is different from that of a heritage learner. Typically, students returning from study abroad experiences benefit most from our SL2 classes.

For more information please contact the Spanish Heritage Language Program at

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