Multilingual Mexican-Origin Students' Perspectives on Their Indigenous Heritage Language

  • P. Zitlali Morales
  • Lydia A. Saravia
  • María Fernanda Pérez-Iribe
Keywords: Transnationalism, Zapoteco, Critical Latinx Indigeneity, Dual language education, Investment


This article focuses on the reported experiences of three focal students who participated in a Spanish/English dual language program in their southern California school district throughout their elementary and middle school years. All three students identify as Mexican-origin and speak Spanish, English, and the Indigenous language of Zapoteco and have different relationships with their languages. The framework of Critical Latinx Indigeneities (Blackwell, Boj Lopez & Urrieta, 2017) is used to explore the practices engaged in by the students, including language use and transnationalism (Sánchez, 2007), as well as the investment to learn and use a language as part of their identity (Norton Peirce, 1995; Norton, 2000). Even though dual language programs provide much needed linguistic supports for language maintenance, perhaps more importantly, they provide support for ideological shifts towards language maintenance rather than transition to English-only instruction. However, the three students experienced a segmented and limited focus on Spanish language development in middle school compared to their elementary school experience. The authors discuss implications for outside school spaces that can support authentic language use, in addition to school-sanctioned language programs promoting multilingualism.