Community Service Learning, Learning by Design, and Heritage Learners: A Case Study

  • Diana Ruggiero


This chapter considers the impact of service learning as a means to build and reinforce Spanish heritage students’ language abilities while allowing for meaningful engagement with local communities. It does so through the discussion of a project grounded in the Learning by Design framework. Over the course of a semester, 15 university students in a service learning course at the University of Memphis collaborated with Spanish-speaking local community leaders and artisans to develop and implement self-sustaining projects centered on the arts. Learners documented their experience in a multimodal journal that included digital storytelling, written reflections, and self-generated questions for critical inquiry. The analysis of this work suggests that the students experienced not only linguistic gains, but also an increase in their confidence as Spanish speakers.


  1. Abbott, Annie, and Darcy Lear. 2010. The Connections Goal Area in Spanish Community Service-Learning: Possibilities and Limitations. Foreign Language Annals 43 (2): 231–245. doi: 10.1111/j.1944-9720.2010.01076.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barreneche, Gabriel Ignacio. 2011. Language Learners as Teachers: Integrating Service Learning and the Advanced Language Course. Hispania 94 (1): 103–120.
  3. Beaudrie, Sara, and Cynthia Ducar. 2005. Beginning Level University Heritage Language Programs: Creating a Space for All Heritage Language Learners. Heritage Language Journal 3 (1): 1–26.Google Scholar
  4. Beaudrie, Sara, Cynthia Ducar, and Ana Maria Relaño-Pastor. 2009. Curricular Perspectives in the Heritage Language Context: Assessing Culture and Identity. Language, Culture and Curriculum 22 (2): 157–174. doi: 10.1080/07908310903067628.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beaudrie, Sara, Cynthia Ducar, and Kim Potowski. 2014. Heritage Language Teaching Research and Practice. New York: McGraw Hill.Google Scholar
  6. Carracelas-Juncal, Carmen. 2013. When Service-Learning Is Not a ‘Border-Crossing’ Experience: Outcomes of a Graduate Spanish Online Course. Hispania 96 (2): 295–309. doi: 10.1353/hpn.2013.0061.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carreira, Maria, and Olga Kagan. 2011. The Results of the National Heritage Language Survey: Implications for Teaching, Curriculum Design, and Professional Development. Foreign Language Annals 44 (1): 40–64. doi: 10.1111/j.1944-9720.2010.01118.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cope, Bill, and Mary Kalantzis. 2000. Multiliteracies: Literacy Learning and the Design of Social Futures. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. ———. 2009. Multiliteracies: New Literacies, New Learning. Pedagogies: An International Journal 4: 164–195. doi: 10.1080/15544800903076044.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. ———. 2015. The Things You Do to Know: An Introduction to the Pedagogy of Multiliteracies. In A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Learning by Design, ed. Bill Cope and Mary Kalantzis, 1–36. London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  11. Ebacher, Colleen. 2013. Taking Spanish into the Community: A Novice’s Guide to Service-Learning. Hispania 96 (2): 397–408. doi: 10.1353/hpn.2013.0064.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Grassi, Elizabeth, Daniel Hanley, and Daniel Liston. 2004. Service-Learning: An Innovative Approach for Second Language Learners. The Journal of Experimental Education 27 (1): 87–110. doi: 10.1177/105382590402700107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. He, Agnes Weiyun. 2006. Toward an Identity Theory of the Development of Chinese as a Heritage Language. Heritage Language Journal 4 (1): 1–28.Google Scholar
  14. Kalantzis, Mary, Bill Cope, and the Learning by Design Project Group. 2005. Learning by Design. Melbourne: Victorian Schools Innovation Commission and Common Ground Publishing.Google Scholar
  15. Lange, Dale L., and R. Michael Paige. 2003. Culture as the Core: Perspectives on Culture in Second Language Learning. Greenwich: Information Age.Google Scholar
  16. Lear, Darcy, and Annie Abbott. 2009. Aligning Expectations for Mutually Beneficial Community Service-Learning: The Case of Spanish Language Proficiency, Cultural Knowledge, and Professional Skills. Hispania 92 (2): 312–323.
  17. Leeman, Jennifer. 2015. Heritage Language Education and Identity in the United States. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics 35: 100–119. doi: 10.1017/S0267190514000245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Magaña, Dalia. 2015. From Pedagogy to Communities: Issues Within and Beyond the Spanish Heritage Language Classroom. Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics 8 (2): 375–388. doi: 10.1515/shll-2015-0014.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Martinez, Glenn, and Adam Schwartz. 2012. Elevating ‘Low’ Language for High Stakes: A Case for Critical, Community-Based Learning in a Medical Spanish for Heritage Learners Program. Heritage Language Journal 9 (2): 37–49.Google Scholar
  20. Paesani, Kate, Heather Willis Allen, and Beatrice Dupuy. 2016. A Multiliteracies Framework for Collegiate Foreign Language Teaching. Boston: Pearson.Google Scholar
  21. Petrov, Lisa A. 2013. A Pilot Study of Service-Learning in a Spanish Heritage Speaker Course: Community Engagement, Identity, and Language in the Chicago Area. Hispania 96 (2): 310–327. doi: 10.1353/hpn.2013.0033.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. The National Standards Collaborative Board. 2015. World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages. 4th ed. Alexandria: Author.Google Scholar
  23. Thompson, Gregory Lynn. 2012. Intersection of Service and Learning: Research and Practice in the Second Language Classroom. Charlotte: Information Age.Google Scholar
  24. Wong, Ka F., and Yang Xiao. 2010. Diversity and Difference: Identity Issues of Chinese Heritage Language Learners from Dialect Backgrounds. Heritage Language Journal 7 (2): 153–187.Google Scholar
  25. Wu, Ming-Hsuan, Kathy Lee, and Genevieve Leung. 2014. Heritage Language Education and Investment Among Asian American Middle Schoolers: Insights from a Charter School. Language and Education 28 (1): 19–33. doi: 10.1080/09500782.2013.763818.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Zapata, Gabriela C. 2011. The Effects of Community Service Learning Projects on L2 Learners’ Cultural Understanding. Hispania 94 (1): 86–102.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diana Ruggiero
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MemphisMemphisUSA

Personalised recommendations