Recent graduates and Advanced Spanish students Sofia Summitt (‘19), Natalia Gomez-Quintero (‘19), Julka Syska (‘19), and Helen Molteni (‘19) presented original research at the annual conference of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP) in San Diego on Monday, July 8. This was the first time in the AATSP’s 101-year history that a high school was accepted to the conference.
The Advanced Spanish students’ research delved into a subfield of linguistics called heritage language pedagogy and acquisition. After thoroughly reviewing college-level linguistic material, reading academic articles, attending a graduate-level seminar, and examining the language profiles of both Latin and Spanish students, Oakcrest students developed their own unique project. They found that at Oakcrest (as is the case in many private schools in Virginia), heritage speakers of Spanish are sometimes automatically enrolled in Latin classes due to their Spanish heritage and assumed proficiency. However, the students matriculated in Latin sometimes find this to be a difficult choice, since their Spanish knowledge possesses gaps that would have been aided by being enrolled in Spanish courses.
In their study, the Advanced Spanish students compared and contrasted the acquisition of the imperfect tense in Spanish (which is also present in a different derivation in Latin) to see how Latin is affecting heritage speakers' recognition and production of Spanish in an open-ended writing task. These speakers were also compared to current heritage speakers who have been allowed to take Spanish courses.
Dr. Sheri Long, Executive Director of AATSP, enthusiastically welcomed Oakcrest, stating, “We are delighted that the Oakcrest students of Spanish will be with us at the AATSP annual conference. To the best of my knowledge, the four high school students from Oakcrest will be the first secondary students to co-present with their instructor at our conference in the AATSP’s history.”
The American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP) is the United States’ leading organization in serving educators to support the teaching and learning of Spanish and Portuguese (K-16+). It provides a forum for instructors from the U.S. and abroad during the Annual Conference that includes over 300 events during 3 1/2 days of discussions, workshops, sessions, exhibits, speeches, and awards that reflect trends, interests, and the needs of educators.