Heritage Language Learning Symposium

Heritage Language Learning Symposium banner

The Heritage Language Learning Symposium is a virtual event sponsored by the UNC Charlotte Chancellor’s Diversity Grant and the CLAS Alumni Council Fall Faculty Grant. It is also supported by the Department of Languages and Culture Studies and the Spanish program.

The entire event will be held virtually on February 24-25, 2021 from 10:00am – 3:00 pm Eastern Standard Time.


The symposium offers the possibility to learn about current research on heritage language learning as well as to get practical tools to teach Spanish to U.S. Spanish Heritage Speakers. We have invited two prominent scholars who have been engaged in the field of Heritage Language Education. The Presenters will share their research and knowledge with UNC Charlotte faculty, graduate and undergraduate students as well as with attendees from other institutions.

This event will hold research presentations in the morning and workshops in the afternoon where attendees will have the opportunity to interact with and learn from the invited experts. The symposium will close with a round table where scholars, language instructors, and students at UNC Charlotte will share their experiences.


Dr. Javier García León (javier.garcialeon@charlotte.edu)
Dr. Paloma Fernández Sánchez (palomafernandezsanchez@charlotte.edu)

Symposium Goals

This symposium has four primary goals:

  1. to increase understanding of and knowledge about (Spanish) heritage speakers on the American context,
  2. to reflect on how heritage students’ pedagogical needs are different from those of second-language learners,
  3. to provide Spanish language instructors with pedagogical tools to better teach Spanish to U.S. Spanish Heritage Speakers, and
  4. to strengthen bilingual/heritage language education practices by connecting scholars, language instructors, and students at UNC Charlotte.

Featured Speakers

Dr. Irma Alarcón – Wake Forest University

Irma Alarcón received her PhD in Hispanic Linguistics from Indiana University. She now teaches at Wake Forest University, where her courses include Psycholinguistics & Language Acquisition, TESOL Linguistics, Language & Society, and Introduction to Hispanic Linguistics,as well as Spanish grammar courses for both English-speaking learners and heritage speakers. Her research has focused on theoretical issues surrounding the role of linguistic variables, such as noun gender and morphology, on the acquisition of Spanish gender agreement. Dr. Alarcón’s most recent publication is a study of the processing of gender by heritage and L2 learners (Borealis, 2020).

Dr. Lina M Reznicek-Parrado – University of Denver, Colorado

Dr. Reznicek-Parrado directs the Spanish for Heritage/Bilingual Speakers Program and is Teaching Assistant Professor of Spanish in the Department of Spanish Language, Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Denver. Since joining DU in the Fall of 2018, she has led curricular efforts there to develop courses for Spanish heritage speakers—students who have personal, familial or community connections to the Spanish language and are interested in furthering their unique linguistic skills in Spanish as part of their academic trajectory. Lina is an educator and researcher at the intersection of Spanish Sociolinguistics and Education, and is interested in issues around bilingual/heritage language education and teacher training, academic language and literacy for linguistically diverse student communities and topics surrounding Spanish in the US.


Note: All times are Eastern Standard Time
Click the following link to download a detailed copy of this schedule with session abstracts: Symposium Schedule

Wednesday February 24, 2021

10:00am – 10:10 amOpening Remarks – Dr. Michèle Bissière, Chair, Department of Languages and Culture Studies
10:10am – 12:00pmResearch Presentation: Subject-verb and noun-adjective agreement in heritage and L2 learners of Spanish
Featured Speaker: Dr. Irma Alarcón
1:00pm – 3:00pmWorkshop: When Spanish is Not a Foreign Language: Pedagogical Considerations for Teaching Spanish to U.S. Spanish Heritage Speakers
Facilitator: Dr. Lina Reznicek-Parrado

Thursday February 25, 2021

10:00am – 10:10 amOpening Remarks – Dr. Nancy Gutierrez, Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
10:10am – 12:00pmResearch Presentation: Translanguaging in context: Spanish heritage peer-to-peer literacy practices for equitable pedagogies
Featured Speaker: Dr. Lina Reznicek-Parrado
1:00pm – 3:00pmWorkshop in Spanish: Ni como a hablantes nativos ni como a de segunda lengua: ¿Cómo enseñar gramática y escritura a hablantes de herencia del español?
Facilitator: Dr. Lina Reznicek-Parrado
5:00pm – 6:00pmZoom Table: UNC Charlotte Latinx students’ needs and perceptions towards Spanish (In collaboration with student organizations)


There is no cost to attend this Symposium, but you must be registered in advance. The deadline for registration is February 22, 2021. Click the following link to register:

Symposium Registration


The following UNC Charlotte student organizations have collaborated with the Organizers to make this event possible:

LatinX Honor Society LogoHispanic College Awareness Program LogoLatinx Student Union LogoL.A.S.O. Logo


Please contact the Symposium organizers if you have any questions or comments:

Dr. Javier García León (javier.garcialeon@charlotte.edu)
Dr. Paloma Fernández Sánchez (palomafernandezsanchez@charlotte.edu)