Date of Award

Fall October 2011

Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Magaly C. Lavadenz

Second Advisor

Franca Dell'Olio

Third Advisor

Karen K. Huchting


The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to analyze the effectiveness of a heritage language Spanish program from the standpoint of organizational, curricular, and cocurricular practices. In this study, heritage language study was defined as having an emphasis on maintaining cultural awareness and language needs (Beaudrie, 2009) through cultural mediation, in which the experiences and identity of students are developed as areas of strength in the educational experience (Bennett, 2003; Gollnick & Chinn, 2004; Lovelace & Wheeler, 2006). The setting for this mixed-methodology study was an all-male Catholic secondary school. The participants in this study numbered 78 students in the heritage language courses and 10 faculty and administration members. The data collected pointed to significant areas for growth in the school’s distinction between heritage language learners and native speakers.

The findings suggested the prevalence of the following themes: class and racial discrimination, student internalization of deficit thinking, and the power struggle between the power structure and Latino student population. The implications of this study were that the program would benefit from greater teacher preparation in terms of degree background, increased emphasis in activities that promote student verbal communication in the heritage language, and greater incorporation of varied classroom practices in order to empower students to achieve a proficient level of bilingualism and biculturalism.