Heritage Language Programs - Spanish

Omaha Public Schools/Omaha, NE

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Institution: Omaha Public Schools

Program address: 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131

Telephone: (402) 557-2440

Fax: (402) 557-2499

Contact Person: Steve Brock, Ph.D., Supervisor of International Languages

Email: stephen.brock@ops.org

Type of institution: Public middle and high school

Grades taught: 6-12

Languages/dialects taught: Spanish

Program Description

Purposes and goals of the program: To increase the literacy and communication skills of Spanish-speaking students.

Instructors’ and administration’s expectations for the program: Students will be able to communicate in formal registers in both speaking and writing.


Countries of origin: Mexico and other Central American countries

Total student enrollment: 650

Age of students: 11-18

How the program identifies heritage speakers: In the past students were asked if they had grown up in a Spanish-speaking home. A placement assessment is currently being created.

Percentage of students who complete the program: 75%

Possible reasons for student withdrawal: Other classes conflict with the schedule or students lose interest.

Students’ attitudes toward the language varieties they speak: The program is designed to teach them greater tolerance for other varieties of Spanish.


Number of instructors in the program: 7

Languages in which instructors are proficient: Spanish. Six of the seven teachers are native speakers of Spanish.

Credentials: Teachers have Spanish certification in Nebraska.

Professional development opportunities for instructors:
• Central States Conference for Foreign Language Teaching
• Other conferences
• Literacy training provided by ESL program


Total contact hours per week: 5

Times per week: 5

Student grouping:
• Middle School Heritage Speakers
• Heritage Intro (High School)
• Heritage Speakers
• Heritage Speakers II

Language skills

Skills developed by the program: Listening, speaking, reading, and writing in Spanish and cultural knowledge.

Levels of language proficiency reached by the end of the program: Students attain intermediate-low to advanced-low (on the ACTFL scale) in speaking and writing.


Aspects of culture taught:
• History
• Festivals
• Customs
• Traditions and beliefs
• Songs and dances
• Social and cultural norms
• Cultural appropriateness
• Literature

Kind of student identity fostered by program: The program attempts to foster pride within the students. Several of the courses are honors courses that recognize students’ language expertise.


Methodologies and instructional strategies used in the program: Standards-based language approach


Textbooks: Nuevas Vistas. 2005, Holt.

Other materials used for instruction:
• Teacher-created materials
• Internet resources

Technology used for instruction: All teachers and students have computer access.


Assessments used to evaluate students’ progress:
• Chapter tests
• Midterm exams
• Final exams
• Standardized assessments
o Formative
o Summative
• Self-assessment (Lingfolio)
• Teachers’ observations
• Portfolios


• Local schools
• Colleges and Universities
• Partnership with El Museo Latino

Opportunities for using the heritage language and developing cultural knowledge outside the program: Partnership with El Museo Latino

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