The Three Disciplines included in Heritage Spanish Class

If you are new to teaching a heritage Spanish class, let me just take a second to welcome you to an exciting journey. This class gives me so much joy, and I hope you are inspired by the uniqueness of this educational opportunity.

Heritage Spanish is a class where history, language arts, and cultural exploration all converge together to form a dynamic classroom experience. 

Heritage Spanish Class Disciplines


In this blog post, we will explore the unique blend of these three disciplines. My aim is to highlight the rich benefits offered to students seeking a deeper connection with their heritage and their language. Many students arrive to heritage Spanish class with a love for their culture and an uncertainty about their Spanish language ability. 

Some students also hold a tangible level of anxiety surrounding all the aforementioned aspects of their culture and how their peers perceive them. Are they going to be paisano enough? Or are they going to be made fun of for being too much this, or not enough that. Our approach to teaching this class aims to empower students by building up and rounding out their heritage language skills and, in doing so, increase their cultural confidence. 

Cultural confidence Heritage Spanish Class

The Ascendencia curriculum seeks to go beyond the traditional language learning experience by incorporating history and language arts into its pedagogy. By intertwining these subjects, students are not only growing proficiency in their heritage language, but they also gain a profound understanding of their cultural roots. 

The historical context that played such a formative role in shaping their language plays a central role in shaping their language acquisition as well. In the Ascendencia curriculum we deploy a content-based instruction approach. This allows us to meaningfully explore and study a rich breadth of content and topics regarding Latino history and culture. Simultaneously, the Ascendencia curriculum uses the Spanish language in such a way that develops and teaches the whole student. 

History/Social Studies

Delving into the past in heritage Spanish class, students have the opportunity to explore the history of the Spanish-speaking world. They dive into captivating moments, discover noteworthy activists and historical figures, study the struggles of discrimination, and the triumphs of social justice throughout different eras.

By studying history, students gain a broader perspective on the evolution of the language, see the elements that have influenced rhetoric and deepen the connection to their familial roots. One example to beautifully highlight this sentiment is a unit we teach in the Ascendencia Year One curriculum, the unit on César Chávez y Dolores Huerta. 

Activistas de derechos civiles

Free Download
Click here to make your own copy:
Bilingual Choice Board (used in the César Chávez y Dolores Huerta unit as an enrichment activity for fast-finishers or a last-minute sub plan)

Language Arts

Language arts play a fundamental role in Heritage Spanish class. Students engage in creative writing, storytelling, and literary analysis. They do all of this in the context of their heritage language. Standards and rigors exist for students in learning English. These standards were mirrored as closely as possible when building out the Ascendencia curriculum. 

Through a series of activities designed to challenge students in reading retention and writing, they strengthen their language skills in Spanish. Furthermore, because of language transfer, when students further solidify their foundation in their Spanish education, they simultaneously build skills that will transfer to their English classes as well. 

Language Arts

In the Ascendencia year one curriculum, we see-saw between language acquisition and Language Arts. Students are certainly still acquiring language, but they already have a lot to work with. Ascendencia year one curriculum seeks to work in tandem with the skills each student already possess, grow their confidence to take on future challenges, and fuel a hunger to learn more about themselves as it relates to the cultural fabric they already know and love.

Cultural Exploration

Celebrating culture is one of the most exciting aspects of any Heritage Spanish class. While heritage speaker students are well-versed in the culture of their country of origin, they often don’t know much about the rest of the Spanish-speaking world. Students get to learn about the customs and traditions of all 21 Spanish-speaking countries in Ascendencia Year One. We also get to have our fair share of class parties enjoying cultural foods that are important to them. Festivities are fun, but also profoundly educational when you look back on the events later.

Cultural Exploration Heritage Spanish Class


The Benefits


The fusion of history, language arts, and cultural exploration in Heritage Spanish class provides students with a multitude of benefits:

  1. A Stronger Sense of Personal Identity: By connecting with their heritage language, students gain a deeper understanding of their roots, fostering a stronger sense of identity and pride in their cultural background.
  2. Enhanced Language Proficiency: The integration of history and language arts allows students to develop a higher level of language proficiency. They learn to express themselves effectively, both orally and in written form, while also acquiring a broader vocabulary as they work through the curriculum content.
  3. Cultural Competence: Through cultural exploration, students become more culturally competent individuals. They develop an appreciation for diversity, learn to navigate intercultural encounters, and become global citizens who have a better understanding of the Latino community as a whole. 

So, are you ready to empower your students to thrive in both their language skills, as well as becoming well-rounded globally aware citizens? Through this trifold approach, students not only develop strong language skills but also gain a profound appreciation for their heritage and that of the greater Spanish-speaking world. 

Personal Identity Heritage Spanish Class


Ascendencia year one curriculum empowers your students to become lifelong learners, solidifies their confidence in their identity and fosters a love for history and culture that extends far beyond the classroom. So, let the adventure begin, and embrace the beauty of Heritage Spanish class!

You likely never studied to be a social studies or language arts teacher so there is definitely going to be a learning curve when it comes to taking over a heritage Spanish class. The good news is that you don’t have to do this alone, and as you learn, you model being a lifelong learner for your students. 

Gain access to hundreds of resources for heritage Spanish and a community of support by joining the Heritage Spanish Membership. 

join the heritage spanish club


Pin for later!