2024 Heritage Language Learning Symposium (Feb22-23)

The 2024 Heritage Language Learning Symposium is an event sponsored by a UNC Charlotte Grant and a Foreign Language Association of North Carolina minigrant. It is also supported by the Department of Languages and Culture Studies and the Spanish program.

The event will be held on February 22-23, 2024 from 10:00am – 6:00 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 three 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. For 2024, the Heritage Language Learning Symposium will focus on promoting a broad understanding of literacy practices and training for heritage speakers by bringing together experts in the fields of bilingual education.

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.


Symposium Goals

This symposium has five primary goals:

  1. increase understanding of and knowledge about (Spanish) heritage speakers in the American educational context, 
  2. reflect on how Innovative approaches to Spanish teaching can benefit heritage students and L2 learners in the Carolinas, 
  3. provide Spanish language instructors with pedagogical tools to better teach Spanish to U.S. Spanish heritage speakers and L2 learners in mixed classrooms, 
  4. strengthen bilingual/heritage language education practices by connecting scholars, language instructors, and students at Charlotte and abroad, and 
  5. reflect on how teaching strategies have a different socio-affective impact on (Spanish) heritage language learners and L2 learners.

Featured Speakers

Dr. Melissa A. Bowles — University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Melissa A. Bowles is Co-Director of the National Heritage Language Resource Center (UCLA) and Professor of Spanish, Linguistics, Educational Psychology, and Second Language Acquisition and Teacher Education (SLATE) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research focuses on instructed second and heritage language acquisition, particularly the ways that instruction differentially affects the two populations. Her most recent book is Outcomes of University Spanish Heritage Language Instruction in the United States (Georgetown University Press, 2022).

Since teachers, parents, and families play a key role in shaping the extent to which heritage languages are transmitted and maintained across generations, she has recently launched a public engagement project, titled The Bilingual Advantage Starts at Home (bilingualadvantage.uillinois.edu). If you visit the site, you can find brochures and videos in English, Spanish, Polish, Chinese, Arabic, and Urdu that answer parents’ frequently asked questions about speaking their language at home.

Dr. Paola Guerrero-Rodríguez — Texas Tech University

Paola Guerrero-Rodríguez (MA, Texas Tech University; PhD, University of Florida) is Assistant Professor of Spanish and director of the Spanish heritage language program at the Department of Classical and Modern Languages and Literatures at Texas Tech University. Paola Guerrero-Rodríguez’ research agenda focuses on understanding the dynamics of heritage and mixed classrooms in order to implement better pedagogical practices that satisfy the needs of heritage speakers in both learning contexts. Her work has been published/is forthcoming in international journals such as Foreign Language Annals, Heritage Language Journal, Computer Assisted Language Learning, Spanish as a Heritage Language, among others, as well as in specialized edited volumes with Cambridge, Multilingual Matters and Routledge.  

Dr. Esperanza Román-Mendoza — George Mason University

Esperanza Román-Mendoza is Professor of Spanish and Spanish Linguistics at George Mason University (Virginia, USA), where she has been a faculty member since 1996. Her primary research interests are distance education, e-learning, and heritage language education from a critical pedagogy approach. Her extensive research on educational technology has been instrumental in understanding the different ways that students perceive themselves as learners and how educators can help them take advantage of instructional technology to address learning challenges, overcome self-criticism, and become autonomous learners and active critical citizens. Dr. Román Mendoza has authored many books, handbooks, scholarly articles, and digital learning materials, and collaborates with professional associations, journals, and international publishers such as CALICO, EUROCALL Review, the International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, Edelsa, Edinumen, and Hueber Verlag. She has created and taught a wide range of graduate, undergraduate, and continuing education courses in traditional (face-to-face), hybrid and online environments. For more information: https://mcl.gmu.edu/people/eromanme


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

Thursday February 22, 2024

10:00am – 10:10 am ESTOpening Remarks – Dr. Anabel Aliaga-Buchenau, Chair, Department of Languages and Culture Studies
Delivery mode: Online
Zoom Link:
10:10am – 12:00pm ESTResearch Presentation: All mixed up over mixed classes? What research tells us about meeting the needs of L2 and heritage learners in mixed classes

Featured Speaker: Dr. Melissa A. Bowles

Delivery mode: Online
Zoom Link:
4:00pm – 6:00pm ESTWorkshop: Oral Feedback in the Spanish mixed classroom: Reflecting on our teaching practices
Facilitator: Dr. Paola Guerrero-Rodríguez
Location: Language Resource Center (Mebane Hall 434, 4th Floor)
Delivery mode: In person

Friday February 23, 2024

10:00am – 10:10 am ESTOpening Remarks – Dr. Maisha N. Cooper, Assistant Dean CHESS
In person atendeess Location: Halton Room, Atkins Library
Delivery Mode: Hybrid
Zoom link:
10:10am – 12:00pm ESTResearch Presentation: Oral Corrective Feedback in the Spanish mixed classroom: Instructors and learners’ perspectives.
Featured Speaker: Dr. Paola Guerrero-Rodríguez
Location: Halton Room, Atkins Library
Delivery Mode: Hybrid
Zoom link:
4:00pm – 6:00pm ESTWorkshop: Language Learning Technologies in Mixed Classrooms
Facilitator: Dr. Esperanza Román-Mendoza
Location: Language Resource Center (Mebane Hall 434, 4th Floor)
Delivery mode: In person
This workshop will be conducted in Spanish
This workshop will address how K-12 teachers use heritage students’ skills and knowledge that they bring to the classroom


There is no cost to attend this Symposium, but you must be registered in advance. The deadline for registration is February 21, 2024. Click the following link to register:


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