Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies (PhD)

Degree Level



Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies


Juan Bustamante

Committee Member

Elias Domínguez

Second Committee Member

Luis Restrepo


Biculturation, Biliteracy, Latino Identity, Maintenance Language Learners, Spanish for Heritage and Native Speakers, Spanish for Heritage Learners


In the context of the Northwest Arkansas (NWA) regional setting, this study examines the effects of the Spanish for Heritage and Native Speakers (SHNS) model from multiple vantage points. Educational capital and biculturation approaches are employed to help theoretically frame post-secondary educational success and ethnic identity, respectively.

Study methods are briefly described and paired with a description of the NWA region as an ideal southern Latino emerging community in which to conduct research on educational outcomes. The manuscript then turns to an ethnographic examination of how and the extent to which curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular aspects of a Spanish for Heritage and Native Speakers program in a secondary school setting shape Latino students’ ethnic identity. The ethnographic examination further assesses the extent to which such an SHNS program enables Latino students to envision post-secondary educational success.

The major findings garnered from a triangulation data approach concentrates on answers from a purposive sample of 35 in-depth interviews with Latino young adults who attended either Rogers Public Schools or Springdale Public Schools. At the time of their participation in this study, respondents had taken a combination of Spanish language courses: Spanish for Heritage and Native Speakers I, II, III, AP Spanish Language, and AP Spanish Literature, at the high school level and they were either currently enrolled in or had graduated from a post-secondary institution. Information collected from the interviews reveals: (1) the multi-faceted, multi-dimensional aspects of how and to what extent study participants gained educational capital and (2) the effects that a biculturation model gained through Spanish for Heritage and Native Speakers (SHNS) classes had on the participants’ identity formation. In regard to these two concerns SHNS classes proved to be seminal classes for involvement in curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities that enlightened respondents to post-secondary readiness, positive self-schema, self-discovery, and linguistic proficiency and retention.