Celebrating Latinx Culture with a Spanish Reading Program (2021-2022)
Latinx children growing up in the U.S. often struggle with defining their own identity while navigating values and expectations of two different cultures. Given the lack of prestige and rejection of their language and culture by the dominant community, many Latinx students internalize feelings of linguistic and cultural inferiority during the early stages of reading and speaking in English. This usually leaves Spanish relegated to a second-class status used only in familial contexts, commonly leading to the loss of Spanish. Among the most relevant consequences related to the loss of Spanish are poor self-image and cultural identity, eroding family relationships, compromised school relationships and lower school performance.
Programs that foster a sense of pride in the Spanish language and Latinx culture and include instruction in reading and writing in Spanish are scarce. Programs that work to deepen Latinx children’s connections with their cultural heritage and help children build a healthy bicultural identity should be implemented to boost confidence in their capacities and promote bilingualism. In addition, this kind of program brings families together and can eventually have an impact in the educational outcomes of Latinx children.
This project aims to foster pride in Latinx language and culture and prevent the loss of Spanish among Latinx children; extend learning hours and encourage the practice of reading and writing in Spanish; increase parents’ engagement in their children’s education; and help parents communicate their connections with the Latinx cultural heritage to their children.
The project team will create a program that focuses on celebrating the Latinx cultural heritage and maintaining the Spanish language. Team members will seek to empower and motivate Latinx children by engaging as peer tutors and create safe spaces for children to practice reading and writing in Spanish.
The team will include at least one parent in the meetings with the children and provide opportunities for children to read Latin American material in Spanish, including books, poems and songs as well as local newspapers, which will help families deepen their connections with the local Latinx community. The team will provide access to Latinx films for families to watch together, opening opportunities for discussions and writing practices. Each family will meet weekly with the same team member for one hour over eight to ten sessions, in person or online if necessary.
Team members will informally evaluate children’s reading skills, such as the number of words read correctly per minute, and will monitor progress in reading fluency. The team will also assess text comprehension using oral retells and by asking questions.
The team will meet with parents alone for a preintervention interview to gain an understanding of each family’s strengths and needs and to assess different family aspects (e.g., literacy levels, reading habits, parent involvement in their children’s education, cultural identity, social well-being). To evaluate impact, the team will have a postintervention interview with parents and compare the same aspects before and after the intervention. A control group will consist of families that only receive books in Spanish and do not meet with the peer tutors.
Learn more about this project team by viewing the team's video.
Academic article(s); evaluation of program’s impact on participating children, parents and peer tutors
Ideally, this project team will be comprised of 2 graduate students and 15 undergraduate students. It would be ideal to have a diverse team of students interested in working with the Latinx community, ranging from students in the social sciences interested in learning how to carry out a research project and/or learning about the challenges this community faces in the U.S. from a public policy perspective; students in humanities interested in cultural expression; students in global health interested in community well-being; and others interested in extending their professional services to the Latinx community and interacting with native speakers of Spanish.
Undergraduate students must have an advanced proficiency (level 300+) in Spanish and a deep understanding of the importance of racial equity. They must be willing to learn how to celebrate and embrace diversity and gain cultural sensitivity and competency.
Students will gain experience working with Latinx families, learning about their strengths and needs. This will be particularly important for those students interested in public policy, social justice and racial equity and will be a great opportunity to learn how to celebrate diversity and for civic engagement. Students interested in learning more about the challenges Latinx youth face in education will have the chance to take Spanish 307S: Issues of Education and Immigration taught by Joan Clifford.
Team leaders and collaborators will provide tools to help students build positive relationships with children and learn how to work with Latinx families. The team will meet weekly to share experiences and discuss any obstacles, reflecting on the challenges that the Latinx communities face across the country and discussing ways to embrace diversity and support the maintenance of multiple cultures.
In Fall 2021, the team will meet on Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m.
The team will create surveys for impact evaluation. Undergraduate students will be responsible for collecting data, and two of them will oversee, write weekly reports and keep track of progress. Graduate students will review literature and analyze data.
Students will gain increased awareness about racial justice and equity as well as opportunities for civic engagement and social research. They will also build confidence in their communication skills in Spanish.
A graduate student will be selected to serve as project manager.
Fall 2021 – Spring 2022
- Fall 2021: Go over project and intervention measures; seek IRB approval; work on additional exploratory postintervention items and program satisfaction survey; learn about Latinx traditions, literature and films; choose books for different levels in Spanish; select songs, poems and films; prepare to work with children and families; recruit families; conduct reading sessions; assess intervention
- Spring 2022: Enroll in optional course, Spanish 307S; recruit new families and replicate intervention; collect, analyze and discuss all data; write article for publication
Academic credit available for fall and spring semesters
Image: Libreria Paradiso, Gijón, by Marisa Ortún, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
- Laura Andrade, Sanford School of Public Policy-Center for Child and Family Policy
- Joan Clifford, Arts & Sciences-Romance Studies
- Marta Sanchez, Social Science Research Institute-Center for Child and Family Policy
/yfaculty/staff Team Members
Miguel Rojas Sotelo, Center for International and Global Studies-Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies
Katie Rosanbalm, Sanford School of Public Policy-Center for Child and Family Policy
/zcommunity Team Members
Nicolas Andrade, University of Mar del Plata, Argentina
Leigh Bordley, Latino Educational Achievement Partnership
Sara Chavez, Latinx Community
Durham County Library
Celeste Luna, Latinx Arts Boston
Seth Napier, Coach for College
Rafael Osuba, Artist Studio Project