Why is it important to transmit Spanish as a heritage language? Spanish values at the Latin American School of Berne
Keywords:Spanish as Heritage Language, values, metadiscourse, ethnographic approach, social justice
Although the Swiss Confederation recognises the importance and benefit of teaching heritage languages (HL) and programmatically supports their institutionalised teaching, due to historical and macro-structural issues not all institutions offering HL education enjoy equal financial and material conditions. While some schools receive state subsidies from their countries, others do not. This is the case of the Escuela Latinoamericana de Berna, a non-profit institution with more than 20 years of existence. The question then arises as to what values the social actors involved in this institution attach to Spanish as an HL. Through an analysis based on an ethnographic perspective, this essay provides an answer to this question, showing that social actors assign several values to Spanish as an LH that are not mutually exclusive, but depend on the perspective and purpose for which the LH is mobilised. These values show the importance of HLs not only for the ELB community, but more generally for Swiss society, which benefits from the advantages of positive socialisation in the host country.
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