The switch to remote instruction in Spanish heritage language courses: Why social presence matters






The pandemic amplified the educational disparities that Latinx students face in virtual courses. This research project describes Spanish Heritage Language (SHL) learners’ experiences with remote instruction, and it proposes using the Community of Inquiry Model (Garrison et al., 2000) and modified versions of the Theory of Social Presence (Fayram, 2017; Hauck & Warnecke, 2012; Strong et al., 2012; Whiteside, 2015) as guiding frameworks to obtain information about social presence (SP) aspects in the online classroom. A total of 126 SHL learners took a validated online survey to evaluate the challenges of switching to a remote modality of instruction. This research emphasizes the need to design effective online courses that foster SP as a key element to diminish feelings of isolation and encourage active participation in the classroom. We propose that teaching presence is an important component of social presence in online SHL courses, and we offer pedagogical implications for practitioners.

Author Biographies

Angélica Amezcua, University of Washington

Angélica Amezcua is an Assistant Professor of Spanish and Director of the Spanish Heritage Language Program at the University of Washington. Angélica is also a researcher, an educator of Spanish Heritage Language, and a linguistics activist who works in and outside the classroom towards reclaiming and promoting the use of Spanish in a society with low ethnolinguistics vitality. In her current research, she examines how university Spanish heritage language courses can play an important role in promoting the use of Spanish in the United States, counteracting the devaluation of minority languages, and contributing to narrowing the Latinx student achievement gap.

Anel Brandl, Florida State University

Anel Brandl is a Teaching Professor of Spanish and Linguistics in the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics at Florida State University (FSU). She specializes in bilingual sentence processing and heritage language acquisition. Her recent work focuses on Spanish heritage language instruction. She created the Spanish Heritage Track at FSU and developed courses in Spanish as a heritage language and Spanish for the professions. Her work has appeared in the journalsLanguages, Hispania, Issues in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics,and the anthology Multilingual is Normal, among others.

Evelyn Durán Urrea, University of New York

Evelyn Durán Urrea is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Languages and Literatures at Lehman College of the City University of New York. Her research interests include Spanish in the United States and Spanish as a heritage language. Her most recent research has focused on assessment and placement of Spanish heritage language learners and Open Educational Resources initiatives.

Estrella Rodríguez, Florida State University

Estrella Rodríguez is Research Faculty in the School of Communication Science and Disorders at Florida State University. She investigates how culture and heritage language can be part of teaching and learning practices in children and adults. She has also developed courses for heritage language speakers. Her work has been published in the Heritage Language Journal, the American Educational Research Journal, in Languages, and in the Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research.



How to Cite

Amezcua, A., Brandl, A., Durán Urrea, E., & Rodríguez, E. (2021). The switch to remote instruction in Spanish heritage language courses: Why social presence matters. EuroAmerican Journal of Applied Linguistics and Languages, 8(2), 185–214.



Research Articles - Special Issue