Ideologies, Identity, Capital, and Investment in a Critical Multilingual Spanish Classroom

  • Beatriz Lado Lehman College & The Graduate Center (CUNY)
  • Carmín Quijano The Graduate Center (CUNY)
Keywords: Critical pedagogy, Identity, Investment, Ideologies, Language minorities


Although Spanish is a local language in the USA, US Spanish varieties are mostly absent from the language classroom. This practice perpetuates monoglossic language ideologies, which are limiting and detrimental to language learners (García and Sylvan 2011). Conversely, critical approaches take into account the sociohistorical context (Leeman and Serafini 2016) and students’ backgrounds to help learners “gain critical understanding of how language is intertwined with social and political structures” (Leeman, Rabin, and Roman-Mendoza 2011b: 481), which may allow students to develop critical language awareness (Fairclough 1992) to identify the production and reproduction of hegemonic language ideologies, and to resist their domination.

This project adopts a critical approach to the teaching of Spanish at the college level while incorporating local Spanish and students’ backgrounds into the classroom. The study focuses on a first semester Spanish course where the majority of students are language-minoritized multilinguals and racialized learners with connections to the Latinx community. A small number of students are also Latinxs. Through questionnaires, journals, and semi-structured interviews at the beginning and end of the semester, we describe three case studies to examine how the introduction of a critical approach helps students negotiate their language ideologies, capital, and identities while being engaged in the language learning process. The project draws from research on Norton’s identity work (Norton 2000, 2013), language ideologies (Kroskrity 2000, 2004), and Darvin and Norton’s (2015) framework to investigate how ideology, identity, and capital intersect and impact learners’ investment in the practices and learning of Spanish and their additional languages.

Author Biographies

Beatriz Lado, Lehman College & The Graduate Center (CUNY)

Beatriz Lado is an Associate Professor at Lehman College (CUNY) where she directs the Linguistics Program and teaches all levels of Spanish and Spanish linguistics courses. She is also affiliated to LAILaC at The Graduate Center (CUNY), where she teaches applied linguistics and language pedagogy courses. Her research interests include bi/multilingual language acquisition, the interaction between pedagogical interventions and individual differences, language placement, and critical and social justice approaches to language teaching and learning. Currently, she is investigating the impact that critical pedagogical approaches to teaching Spanish at the college level have on language minoritized and racialized learners (both Latinxs and non-Latinxs), and specifically on how they develop critical linguistic awareness, and negotiate their language ideologies, capital, identities, and investment in the language learning process. Her publications have appeared in journals such as Applied Psycholinguistics, Bilingualism: Language & Cognition, Language Learning, Foreign Language Annals, Language Teaching Research, International Journal of Multilingualism, and Hispania.

Carmín Quijano, The Graduate Center (CUNY)

Quijano is a doctoral candidate in Critical Sociolinguistics in the Latin American, Iberian, and Latino Cultures Program at The Graduate Center (CUNY). She is also a graduate teaching fellow at Hunter College, where she teaches Spanish as a second language with a critical perspective. She was a graduate student fellow at the Advanced Research Collaborative (The Graduate Center, CUNY) in 2019. She currently collaborates as a research assistant at CUNY’s Initiative on Immigration and Education (CUNY-IIE), and she is an active member of Grupo de Glotopolítica, a group of sociolinguists, linguistic anthropologists, and social scientists who study the intersection between language and politics. Quijano’s work focuses on the formation of racialized and gendered identities through the perception and evaluation of linguistic practices in the neocolonial context of Puerto Rico.