I have a conflicted relationship with non-authentic resources. In short, I love a lot of them. On the other hand, I am a huge proponent of using primarily authentic resources in the World Language classroom.

For this post, I’m going to tell you about one way that non-authentic resources have made a difference in my Spanish for Heritage Learners class.

One of my long term goals for the last couple of years has been to build up my classroom library.  I really do buy into the research that shows silent sustained reading to be a key component of language acquisition. Add to that the opportunity to choose a reading that the student likes, and I think it ups the ante even more.

So, even given my fondness for non-authentic resources for silent sustained reading, when I read Mike Peto’s blog where he talked about native and heritage learners preferring these types of resources (books by Carol Gaab, Blaine Ray, etc)… I’ll admit. I scoffed at the idea.

Fast forward past two years of failed attempts at authentic target language youth novels with my heritage learners, and here I am wrapping up my first unit with them over the novel Esperanza, by Carol Gaab. It has turned out to be a great success.

What I learned was that this novel allowed my heritage learners to explore their heritage in a way that was comprehensible to them. It gave us the chance to work with some pretty deep issues like immigration and social activism in a way that was non-threatening because it was happening to someone else. It also wasn’t some boring story from the newspaper!

Here are some pictures of my students working on their posters for our theme “I would fight for…” (Yo lucharía por…):


And the finished products (just ignore the “time to talk” poster…we had to work around it):


You can see that my students expressed their passion over everything from racism and healthcare to homelessness and the school cafeteria food!

Don’t you just love these little gems that allow us to peer deeper into our students heads?

What do you do to reach your heritage learners?


Thanks for “listening” to my ramblings 🙂

Profe C