The population of Spanish heritage language learners is increasing throughout the state of Minnesota. This change in demographics impacts schools in a variety of ways; one such consequence is the creation of classes for Spanish for Native Speakers in locations with high Latino populations. However, in most locations, such programs currently do not exist, resulting in Spanish heritage language learners enrolling in Spanish foreign language classes. These classrooms, called mixed classes due to the combination of second language learners and Spanish heritage language learners in the same classroom, pose a unique challenge to the foreign language instructors. This qualitative multiple case study investigates the challenges of mixed classes, teachers’ personal and professional history with heritage language learners, and the strategies teachers employed to meet heritage language learners’ needs. To explore these topics, three Minnesota Spanish teachers were interviewed and observed during their mixed classes. The results of this study indicate that teachers are aware of their students’ linguistic differences but do not acknowledge the distinctions in their affective characteristics. However, although teachers are aware of linguistic differences in HL students, the teachers in this investigation employed few linguistic strategies, suggesting a reason for such a discrepancy may be the teachers’ lack of education on such instructional strategies. Furthermore, the results suggest a relationship in use of affective strategies for heritage language learners and the teachers’ connection to the heritage language community, thus identifying integrative motivation as key to creating a positive learning environment for heritage language learners.


Gregory Taylor

Committee Member

J. Ruth Dawley-Carr

Committee Member

Kimberly Contag

Committee Member

Kathleen Ford

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Arts and Humanities

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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