Experiences of African American Spanish Learners in the US: mitigating racialization and fostering belonging through an inclusive curriculum

Morris, Andrea Easley and Evans, Ben (2024). Experiences of African American Spanish Learners in the US: mitigating racialization and fostering belonging through an inclusive curriculum. Journal of Spanish Language Teaching, 10 pp. 138–154.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/23247797.2023.2294633

Abstract

This study investigates experiences and investments in Spanish language learning among African American graduates of a university in the southeastern US. In response to evidence of African American underrepresentation in this field, findings will forward those factors which may encourage advanced Spanish study and create a sense of belonging as learners and speakers. Data emerges from eight language learning autobiographies, each written by a self-identifying African American who completed a Spanish major or minor at university. Inductive coding and narrative analysis methods yield the following themes: (1) Limited family/community connections to TL speakers, but wide family interest/support for language learning; (2) Inspiring teachers, formal learning environments, and content, but with significant content omissions; (3) Navigation of racialization in classrooms and TL communities and (4) Learning Spanish shapes career paths, provides empowerment and self-understanding. Findings ultimately suggest that family support and positive experiences during formal learning can encourage continued study, and some learners navigate acute obstacles relating to racialization. The data further evidences the necessity for culturally relevant and social justice pedagogies which facilitate inclusive learning communities and curricular revision. Such revisions would include content representative of African-descended people, histories, and cultures; and an understanding of racialization in the Spanish-speaking world.

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