Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Languages and Cultures

Committee Chair

John Sundquist

Committee Co-Chair

Patricia Morita-Mullaney

Committee Member 1

Colleen Neary-Sundquist

Committee Member 2

Wayne E. Wright


Spanish heritage speakers are a growing and heterogeneous population that shares a status of inequality within society regarding their language and culture. This study explored the language ideologies of Spanish heritage speakers and their English peers in two different settings: an urban monolingual school and a sub-urban bilingual school with a Dual-Immersion language program in Indiana.

The focus for heritage language students in US schools is usually on the linguistic components of bilingual or English monolingual development and does not focus on ideologies or climate within classrooms where heritage students are taught. With little to no focus on ideologies or climates among educators, heritage and English-only students, heritage students’ cultural, racial and linguistic identities are neglected, marginalizing them within schools and perpetuating social inequalities. This privileging of English dominant speakers’ aims for bilingual development supersedes that of heritage speakers’ language maintenance and demonstrates the monoglossic ideologies that dual language programs supposedly intend to ameliorate.

The study was carried out through the lens of Critical Theory (Bourdieu, 1992, 1993, 2000; Leeman, 2012). A qualitative cross-case study method of inquiry was selected for this dissertation, with a total of 19 participants: ten Spanish heritage speakers and nine English peers.

Findings indicate that there is an English hegemony in both settings, which results in the assimilation of the heritage speakers into the majority group. English peers perceive Spanish as capital and heritage speakers as part of their identity.

Regarding program design, there is a need to focus on language ideologies. Besides, teachers should be provided with a kind of education that openly addresses language hierarchies, and power since by practicing a critical pedagogy and critical research dominant hierarchies can be challenged (Leeman, 2005; 2012). Teacher preparation should have a heteroglossic focus on inclusion. Hispanic community leaders with linguistic, cultural, educational, and political resources would help approach parents and schools as mediators in schools and community centers.