21st Century Bilingualism at Harvard: How Latinx students are reshaping Spanish classroom pedagogy


Wednesday, March 28, 2018, 12:00pm to 2:00pm


CGIS South, S216, 1730 Cambridge Street

SpeakerMaría Luisa Parra, Senior Preceptor in Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Harvard University

Novel theoretical frameworks are being developed as global immigration challenges our traditional notions of languages bound to nation-states. These new approaches enable us to understand emergent social bilingual practices and identity development in children and youth. In this presentation, we will discuss how these new frameworks are being translated into game-changing pedagogical practices in the Harvard language classroom. Theory and practice join to address Latinx students’ linguistic and cultural interests and needs. Research shows improvement in students’ sense of ethnolinguistic and transnational identity. The presentation will include a discussion with Latinx students who have taken the RLL courses Spanish 49h and 59h, as well as examples of their essays and art work as part of the creative assignments integrated into the courses’ pedagogy. The presentation hopes to contribute to the discussion of best practices for “heritage students”, at all levels of education, as our classrooms become more diverse.


Dr. María Luisa Parra Velasco has a B.A. in Psychology (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México), a Ph.D in Hispanics Linguistics (El Colegio de México). She has fifteen years of experience in the fields of Second Language Acquisition and Child Bilingual Development. She is currently the course head of the first year Spanish sequence (Spanish 10 and Spanish 11) and of the advanced class "Spanish and the Community" (Spanish 59). She has pioneered the two first Spanish courses for Latino students at Harvard (Spanish 49h and 59h). She also teaches the new course "Frida's Kahlo Mexico: Women, Arts, and Revolution" at the Harvard Extension and Summer School. Along with Prof. Elvira DiFabio, she is the recipient of a Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching (HILT) grant to develop a methodology to incorporate visual arts into language classes and collaborate with Harvard Art Museums. She has published her work in the Heritage Language Journal (2013) and AAUSC Issues in Language Program Direction (2013 and 2015), as well as in several edited volumes on Spanish as heritage language. She has co-authored with Dr. Martha Julia García-Sellers the book Conexión entre la escuela y la familia: Fortaleciendo las bases para el éxito académico. Paidós, 2005.



See also: Cambridge, LatinX