Mellinger and Gasca-Jiménez: Challenges and opportunities for heritage language learners in interpreting courses in the U.S. context



INTRODUCTION

This article presents an overview of current research on heritage language learning and its intersections with interpreting pedagogy in order to identify potential advantages or challenges experienced by heritage language speakers in the interpreting classroom. In particular, we focus on community interpreting, which as Carreira (2014a) attests, may be a professional opportunity for heritage language speakers. Until the 1990s, interpreter education aimed primarily at addressing a pragmatic need to prepare students for professional requirements and market demands. In many instances, instructors drew heavily on anecdotal evidence of professional interpreters due to a dearth of scholarship on best practices of interpreting pedagogy (Colina & Angelelli, 2015a; Moser-Mercer, 2015). Interpreting programs focused on conference interpreting in most cases; community interpreting has and continues to vary in terms of its professional status and a lack of recognition for the need to train community interpreters (Hale, 2007). In addition, a general oversimplification of community interpreting on the part of the general public as being simply ad hoc and reliant solely on sufficient command of two languages left non-professional interpreting and translation, along with language brokering and similar constructs, undertheorized and underresearched (Pérez González & Susam-Saraeva, 2012; Antonini, Cirillo, Rossato & Torresi, 2017).

Since then, more empirically-driven research has been conducted on interpreting pedagogy to better understand how to develop specific interpreting skills and competences (e.g., Bao, 2015; Colina & Angelelli, 2015b).1 Moreover, there is growing consensus that interpreter education is needed for community settings (Tipton & Furmanek, 2016; Cirillo & Niemants, 2017) as well as increased recognition of non-professional interpreting and translation as an area of research (e.g., Antonini et al., 2017). Concurrently, child language brokers and heritage language speakers have been researched from sociolinguistic and educational perspectives, revealing characteristics that differ from second language learners or professional interpreters (e.g., Wiley, Peyton, Christian, Moor & Liu, 2015; Kagan, Carreira & Chik, 2017).

The growth in research-based interpreting pedagogy has motivated scholars to draw on several interpreting models and translation process research to investigate specific pedagogical practices (Muñoz Martín, 2011; Winston, 2013; Colina & Angelelli, 2015b). Perhaps one of the most influential models is Gile’s effort model, which has been widely employed by both instructors and researchers to appreciate the consequences of limited cognitive resources during interpreting task (Gile, 1995, 2015). In particular, the model includes four major efforts in simultaneous interpreting: (1) listening and analysis; (2) memory; (3) production; and (4) coordination, while consecutive interpreting efforts are composed of a comprehension phase and a reformulation phase with notetaking processes comprising parts of each. These effort models are squarely focused on cognitive effort, while other models have taken into account dynamics during the communicative event (e.g., Wadensjö, 1998). When applied to interpreting pedagogy, models have been used to describe and investigate the skills, abilities, or competences required of interpreters (Sawyer, 2004; Moser-Mercer, 2015). These models are subsequently used to develop curricula as well as entrance and accreditation exams, and associated research aims to inform pedagogical practices (Pöchhacker, 2010).

Scholars may differently configure their conceptualization of the various skills required during the interpreting task, but all of these models rely on the assumption of adequate facility in at least two languages (Russo, 2011). Advanced language proficiency is often cited as a prerequisite for developing interpreting skills; however, the level of proficiency can be difficult to ensure in certain educational contexts. For instance, students of heritage and community languages, languages of limited diffusion, or of languages that are not offered or supported widely in school settings may not be able to achieve complete language parity prior to the start of interpreting programs. Fee, Rhodes and Wiley (2014) describe the demographic realities of languages spoken in the United States and recognize that more policy-level support is needed for languages other than English. In view of this linguistic landscape, students will likely have discordant language proficiencies during translation and interpreting (T&I) programs and may develop these concurrently.

Challenges related to language proficiency levels in the translation and interpreting classroom are further compounded given the varied emphases of translation and interpreting in the United States and the diverse profiles of students enrolled in these courses (Venuti, 2017). In many cases, translation and interpreting coursework is embedded in language departments rather than being offered as standalone T&I programs.2 While some students are second (or third) language learners at different stages of language acquisition, others may be heritage language (HL) speakers whose first and second language may be more difficult to determine. Moreover, HL speakers have different levels of proficiency in specific language skills in each language (e.g., Polinsky & Kagan, 2007), thereby further stratifying the T&I classroom.

Despite these challenges, heritage language speakers may be interested in translation and interpreting courses in line with Carreira’s (2014a) assertion that HL speakers have professional opportunities in this area, as well as in education, healthcare, and business. Angelelli (2011) also suggests that translation and interpreting courses in high school settings are a beneficial way to develop the special linguistic skills of bilingual youngsters. Yet, to date, there is limited reflection on heritage language speakers in translation and interpreting courses despite their potential draw. In one description, Hubert (2017) explicitly notes that heritage language learners have not been fully happy in a translation course that has both L2 and heritage language learners, commenting that perhaps the course does not fully satisfy their needs. Other studies involving translation and interpreting students regularly do not describe the experiences of heritage language speakers, either considering these participants as analogous to L2 learners or utilizing them as a control group.

Related areas of research, such as language for specific purposes (LSP) and language teaching, have begun to explore their intersections with translation and interpreting, with particular emphasis on their role within the community (e.g., Abbott, 2017; Doyle, 2017; King de Ramírez, 2017) and the development of linguistic and mediation skills (e.g., Carreres, 2014; Cook, 2010; González-Davies, 2018). For instance, as an addition to the four skills typically associated with language learning (i.e., reading, writing, speaking, and listening), Colina and Lafford (2017) propose translation be included as a fifth skill taught in language teaching. Additionally, pedagogical reflection has been relevant for LSP researchers (e.g., Sánchez-López, Long & Lafford, 2017) and, given the growing interest in this area, research lines continue to expand their scope. Nevertheless, the relationship between LSP, heritage language, and translation and interpreting requires considerable research to better understand these connections.

Therefore, the present article outlines several challenges and opportunities for HL learners in the interpreting classroom with the objective of starting a dialogue between heritage language education and interpreting pedagogy. Likewise, it encourages more explicit recognition of HL learners in the translation and interpreting classroom as well as in the research literature to better understand the intersections of these fields. The article also calls for more empirically-based pedagogy that takes into account the different learner profiles that regularly appear in the T&I classroom. To do so, the article first reviews the extant literature on HL learners and education reviewed in conjunction with interpreting pedagogy. Then, challenges and opportunities for this subpopulation of students will be discussed, particularly in comparison to L2 learners. In doing so, we aim to better understand how the HL student profile differs from the L2 learner profile in the interpreting classroom. We conclude this discussion by identifying areas of research that require greater investigation to understand the role and profile of HL learners in interpreting courses and how existing skillsets may be better leveraged to jumpstart interpreter education.

1. Literature review

1.1. Heritage language education

The field of heritage language education in the United States has established itself in the last two decades as distinct from second language education and acquisition (Trifonas & Aravossitas, 2014). Organizations like the American Association for Applied Linguistics and ACTFL distinguish heritage language learners as a specific group of language speakers apart from second and foreign language learners. Major institutional initiatives have also taken form, such as the National Heritage Language Resource Center at UCLA and the Alliance for Advancement of Heritage Languages at the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington, DC, to promote heritage language learning, development, and maintenance.

Prior to reviewing the extant literature, we wish to make a terminological distinction regarding heritage languages. In the United States, the designation ‘heritage language’ (HL) is now widely used to refer to a minority language that differs from the dominant societal language, namely English (e.g. Fishman, 2006; Fairclough & Beaudrie, 2016; Pascual y Cabo, 2016). In this context, the term ‘heritage language learner’ is usually employed to refer to individuals who live in a bilingual/multilingual environment from an early age and whose dominant language is the dominant societal language (Benmamoun, Montrul & Polinsky, 2013).3

However, as both Wiley (2001) and Fairclough and Beaudrie (2016) indicate, defining HL learners is not an easy task. According to Carreira (2004), most HL learner definitions focus on three main factors: membership in an HL community, personal connection to the HL through family background, and proficiency in the HL. Fishman (2001), for instance, identifies HL learners as speakers of languages other than English who have a personal connection to a particular cultural or ethnic group. Similarly, Hornberger and Wang (2008) refer to HL learners as “individuals who have familial or ancestral ties to a particular language that is not English” (Hornberger & Wang, 2008: 27). In contrast, Valdés (2001) refers to HL learners as individuals raised in homes where a language other than English is spoken and who are to some degree bilingual in English and the heritage language. Similarly, Polinsky and Kagan (2007) consider HL learners to be those individuals whose first acquired language was the HL but who did not acquire the language completely because of a switch to the dominant language. In educational contexts, proficiency-oriented definitions have been favored for pedagogical purposes. Carreira and Kagan (2011), for example, focus on “learners who have some functional abilities in their HL” in order to “contribute to the design of methodologies and curricula that build upon the linguistic skills of these learners” (Carreira & Kagan, 2011: 42). In the same way, Fairclough and Beaudrie (2016) adopt Valdés’ definition arguing that:

“a certain degree of proficiency is deemed necessary to justify the separation of second or foreign language learners from heritage learners on linguistic grounds” (Fairclough & Beaudrie, 2016: 2).

Moreover, Wiley et al. (2015) note the range of terminology used when describing heritage languages and the considerable challenge of differentiating between heritage, community, and ancestral languages. Furthermore, they describe how many of these concepts are historically oriented (i.e., backward-looking) rather than oriented toward their present or future use. Polinsky and Kagan (2007) as well as Carreira and Kagan (2011) propose both a broad and narrow definition of this concept. While a broad definition in their classification encompasses the speaker’s family or cultural heritage without requiring knowledge of or use in the home, a narrow definition describes the order in which a language was acquired. That is to say, HL learners have some proficiency or knowledge of the language prior to their matriculation in language courses. For the purposes of the present article, we will adopt the narrow definition that describes some level of proficiency in the language, which also aligns with Valdés’ (2001) conception of heritage language learners.

Heritage language education is not a new phenomenon (e.g., Fishman, 2001, 2014; Benmamoun et al., 2013). Early research in the U.S. on language mediation within and among heritage language speakers presented ethnographic inquiries into the role that children played as linguistic mediators for their families and the surrounding community (e.g., Tse, 1995a; Orellana, 2001; Orellana, Dorner & Pulido, 2003; Weisskirch, 2005). These initial studies were complemented by others focusing on the relationship between the experiences of heritage language speakers and their academic performance (e.g., Tse, 1995b; Buriel, Perez, De Ment, Chavez & Moran, 1998; Orellana, 2003; Dorner, Orellana & Li-Grining, 2007). Still others focused on the development of translation and interpreting skills as a result of their ad hoc translation and interpreting experiences, particularly given the complexity of the tasks (e.g., Harris & Sherwood, 1978; McQuillan & Tse, 1995); yet, to date very few studies have empirically examined these issues (two exceptions being Valdés, 2003; Gasca-Jiménez, 2017).

Translation and interpreting as an instructional technique in HL education has received some attention. For instance, researchers have touched upon the instrumental, motivational, and pedagogical value of translation-based activities for HL learners in language courses (e.g., Fairclough, 2016a; Carreira, 2014a). Other research discussing best instructional practices for HL education proposes the use of translation to aid language acquisition and improve the attitudes of HL learners toward the heritage language and their linguistic skills (e.g. Fairclough, 2016b; Leeman & Serafini, 2016). Fairclough (2016b) proposes the use of translation as a contrastive technique to favor the acquisition of additional dialects. Interpreting as a language teaching practice has also been explored in the research literature. Contributions in a volume edited by Thomas and Towell (1985) illustrate the various ways that interpreting has been integrated into the curricula in the U.K., with liaison interpreting being used as a means to integrate role play into the language classroom that has an explicit link to the real world (Keith, 1985; see also Parnell, 1989). In addition, Sandrelli (2001) summarizes interpreting as a language learning technique over a 20-year span in the U.K. and presents several ways in which teachers can complement language learning using liaison interpreting.

In a similar vein, Leeman and Serafini (2016), through the lens of critical pedagogy, promote the use of mediation activities and multilingual materials to normalize the linguistic practices and experiences of HL learners. Belpoliti and Plascencia-Vela (2013) similarly propose the use of translation as a teaching tool to favor lexical acquisition. Likewise, Gasca-Jiménez (2017) highlights that translation and interpreting are communicative activities that are part of the linguistic experience of HL speakers and encourages the use of translation-based activities through a collaborative and active methodology to favor the transfer of skills between the majority and the heritage language as well as the development of a multilingual identity, intercultural competence, linguistic skills, and metalinguistic knowledge. Finally, Colina and Lafford (2017) argue that translation, understood broadly as a mediation activity, can facilitate the development of linguistic and textual competence and serve as a motivational factor for HL learners.

Translation and interpreting as an educational goal, however, has received limited attention in the extant literature on HL learners and speakers. The relationship between these areas is readily apparent in light of the connections that have already been made regarding T&I as an instructional method. This area merits further investigation, particularly in light of the potential challenges that HL speakers face in the interpreting classroom as well as possible opportunities afforded by their existing linguistic skillset. These challenges and opportunities are presented in the sections that follow, which can potentially serve as avenues of future research and reflection.

1.2. Challenges to interpreter education

The development of interpreting skills and expertise has been of interest to scholars and practitioners seeking to improve interpreter education. The various models applied to interpreting pedagogy point to language proficiency as one aspect necessary to develop interpreting skills effectively. The unique profile of HL speakers, however, may pose challenges to the acquisition of interpreting skills. That is not to say that L2 learners are better positioned to learn interpreting nor that they experience advantages over HL speakers, but rather that L2 and HL speakers are unique subpopulations. Explicit recognition of these differences may prove useful when developing interpreting curricula and when conducting research on interpreting and its pedagogy. Here, we suggest three challenges potentially faced by HL speakers in the interpreting classroom based on current research in HL education and interpreting studies. The three challenges - namely those related to differentiated instruction, language proficiency, and domain-specific knowledge - are by no means an exhaustive list. Instead, these three potential difficulties are presented as points of consideration when developing interpreting studies courses that may include HL speakers and when conducting research on interpreting pedagogy.

1.2.1. Differentiated instruction

At the macro-level, instructors of interpreting programs must be cognizant of the varying profiles of students enrolled in their courses. While certificate and degree programs in interpreting may have entrance exams or aptitude testing to harmonize the overall student profile (e.g., Sawyer, 2004; Setton & Dawrant, 2016), standalone courses embedded in language programs may not be able to screen potential students as rigorously. Scholars and instructors understand the varying proficiencies, learning styles, and characteristics of their students in both translation and interpreting (e.g., Hansen & Shlesinger, 2007; Cai, Dong, Zhao & Lin, 2015), which have been used to some effect when screening potential interpreting student candidates. Moreover, the ability to identify aptitude for interpreting may be an elusive goal, despite a growing body of scholarship on the topic (Pöchhacker & Liu, 2014). Previous experience with translation and interpreting may also contribute to differing levels of student proficiency or readiness (Séguinot, 1997).

Likewise, heritage language scholars recognize the need for differentiated instruction for HL learners and L2 learners. This distinction has been explicitly recognized since 2007 by the Modern Language Association, which notes the need to design curricula that meet HL learners’ needs and to adopt and promote best practices for heritage language teaching (MLA, 2007). In the U.S., a number of higher education institutions provide specific instruction for heritage language learners to address the specific profile of the HL learner. According to the findings of an ongoing national survey based on 296 higher education language programs there is a positive relationship between the size of the HL population at program level and the availability of specialized HL courses (Carreira, 2014b). Roughly half of the programs surveyed offered HL courses, which suggests that mixed classrooms - i.e., classes with second and heritage language learners - are common. Other studies have also indicated that large numbers of HL learners are enrolled in mixed classes (e.g., Valdés, Fishman, Chávez & Pérez, 2006; Beaudrie, 2011). The survey results also showed that most HL programs offer one or two levels of instruction and that most privilege higher levels of proficiency.

Interpreting education should strive to recognize the distinction between L2 and HL learners in a similar manner to foreign language acquisition classroom practice, particularly when considering the underlying need for language proficiency. The need to develop students’ abilities at different levels can be complicated with the inclusion of HL learners in the interpreting classroom and ultimately requires greater differentiation of instruction for students across a range of levels. These efforts are needed even if entrance exams or candidate screening is conducted to ensure student readiness to begin interpreter education and training, since these tests may not fully address specific needs or differences of HL speakers. Variations in language proficiency - described in greater detail below - as well as student motivation (e.g., Wen, 2011), self-confidence (e.g., Valdés, 2001), and self-identity (e.g., Carreira & Deusen-Scholl, 2010) illustrate how critical pedagogy and engagement is necessary. This overarching challenge falls largely to the instructor as opposed to the HL learner; however, HL learners may encounter difficulties in interpreting coursework if instructors are not cognizant of the need to differentiate instruction.

1.2.2. Language proficiency

Perhaps one of the greatest challenges facing HL speakers in the interpreting classroom is language proficiency. HL speakers are typically raised in homes in which the heritage language is the dominant language; however, these speakers do not typically demonstrate full parity between the heritage and societal languages.4 Instead, HL speakers may be less proficient in the heritage language for two main reasons: (1) HL learners receive less input in the heritage language than in the societal language, and (2) many HL speakers do not receive formal schooling in the heritage language (Potowski, Jegerski & Morgan-Short, 2009). This description of language proficiency is usually referred to as ‘incomplete acquisition’ (e.g., Montrul, 2002) or ‘bilingual acquisition’ (e.g., Beaudrie, Ducar & Potowski, 2014), which suggests that not all the grammatical features from a monolingual system are acquired.5

Heritage language learners exhibit variation in proficiency across the four language skills in both languages (Valdés, 1995; Montrul, 2016), which can pose significant challenges to HL speakers in the interpreting classroom. The linguistically heterogeneous nature of HL speakers is the result of a number of factors, and the range of their linguistic ability and proficiency varies considerably, from minimum aural comprehension ability to full fluency in written and spoken registers (Montrul, 2012). For instance, many HL speakers have receptive and often some productive competence in the heritage language (Valdés, 1997). Those who lack productive skills, often called receptive bilinguals, can comprehend oral language but have significant difficulties producing oral or written language.

In a similar vein, Beaudrie (2009) suggests that even though receptive bilinguals are surrounded by the heritage language during childhood they are mainly overhearers of or listeners to the language rather than productive language users. According to Valdés (2001), this group of speakers typically exhibits receptive proficiency that is stronger than the receptive proficiencies acquired by beginning and intermediate learners of a foreign language. Similarly, Beaudrie (2009) points out that, productively, these speakers can perform satisfactorily in everyday conversation (comparable to a novice high level of the ACTFL scale for foreign language learners) and, receptively, they can comprehend input at a low-intermediate or mid-intermediate level, based on the standards of the Contextualized Listening Assessment (CoLA) of the Minnesota Language Proficiency Assessment (MLPA).

While receptive aural comprehension skills of HL learners may be sufficiently developed, a discrepancy in oral production skills is at odds with an interpreter’s ability to perform the interpreting task. In dialogue interpreting, for instance, interpreters regularly switch between two languages to facilitate communication between two or more parties (Tipton & Furmanek, 2016). This type of interpreting is a likely draw for HL speakers, given its connection to community interpreting and potential motivations of working with their linguistic and cultural communities (King de Ramírez, 2017). As such, HL speakers would need to present sufficient faculties in spoken language comprehension and production to be successful.

Skills in reading comprehension may appear to be of lesser concern in the context of interpreting, given the predominantly oral nature of the task; however, the sight translation mode - i.e., an oral rendition in the target language of a written source text - requires reading comprehension skills and facility with various registers to account for a wide range of text types that may be encountered. Carreira and Kagan (2011) note that HL speakers possess stronger aural skills than other language skills. These comments echo those of Montrul (2008: 490), who notes that many HL speakers and learners:

“[d]o not develop the full spectrum of sociolinguistic registers or the level of cognitive and academic literacy commanded by monolingual native speakers. Even when they may speak the language very fluently and with native-like pronunciation, many heritage speakers and learners lack command of late-acquired aspects of language, including forms of address, grammatical and discourse devices, and other aspects of meaning and pragmatics.”

The lack of these devices in language can significantly hinder progress in any of the three modes of interpreting, but particularly in sight translation, since a written text serves as the source input. As Colina and Lafford (2017) describe in the context of translation, HL speakers lack the requisite experience with formal written registers, thereby leading to carryover of source language features at the lexical and structural level. Consequently, HL speakers require instruction in these features prior to or during interpreting coursework to help address this type of behavior. Failure to recognize this characteristic of HL learners and speakers may ultimately lead to suboptimal performance during the task.

1.2.3. Domain specific-knowledge

Another challenge HL speakers face in the context of interpreter education is knowledge of domain-specific terminology in the HL and the ability to alternate between informal and formal registers. These two aspects characterize language used in domain-specific contexts and, by extension, specialized interpreting. As noted above, HL learners may not have developed the full range of registers as a result of their experiences with language in specific settings (Valdés & Geoffrion-Vinci, 1998), which ultimately becomes a goal in HL education to develop academic skills and a more widely used form of the HL being learned.6 Nevertheless, several authors emphasize the importance of teaching additional dialects to expand the linguistic repertoire of HL learners (e.g., Martínez, 2003; Leeman, 2005, 2012; Gutiérrez & Fairclough, 2006). While academic skills and proficiency in a prestige language variety are useful to the interpreting task, flexibility to mediate between registers is important to address the wide range of speakers encountered in domain-specific settings.

Likewise, the lexical knowledge of HL learners tends to be reduced and typically belongs to specific semantic fields related to the home environment (e.g., Montrul, 2016). Fairclough (2013) estimates that receptive Spanish HL learners have a lexical knowledge of 3,000 words, while productive learners can recognize approximately 90% of the 5,000 most frequent words in Spanish.7 Montrul (2016) suggests that they may have difficulties retrieving words they do not use frequently. In this regard, Montrul and Foote (2014) show that HL learners have faster recall for words that were acquired earlier in language acquisition. Additionally, Colina and Lafford (2017: 11), focusing on Spanish HL learners, indicate that those “who have used both Spanish and English for most of their lives may show evidence of English lexical and structural transfer in their Spanish.” A few studies focusing on writing with Spanish HL speakers suggest that the lexical transfer in Spanish from English is low and that it decreases in speakers with higher proficiency levels (Moreno-Fernández, 2007; Garza, 2013; Fairclough & Belpoliti, 2016). Terminology in specialized interpreting has been an area of research interest for scholars (e.g., several contributors to Cirillo & Niemants, 2017), and while HL speakers may demonstrate stronger speaking proficiency in general domains, limited lexical knowledge may hinder their performance.

2. Opportunities and remaining questions for HL education and interpreting

While the previously-mentioned challenges may be present for HL speakers in the interpreting classroom, their unique skillsets may provide a potential advantage and unique opportunities that differ from L2 learners. The brief overviews presented below are potential opportunities for HL speakers in the interpreting classroom, although we would call for more research on these areas to determine whether there are meaningful differences between HL and L2 speakers in these areas and if these are beneficial during interpreter education.

2.1. Interpreting aptitude

As noted above, some interpreting programs use aptitude exams to determine whether students are particularly suited to the interpreting task. While HL speakers may exhibit incomplete acquisition or unbalanced development of the four language skills, HL speakers do generally exhibit strengths in listening and speaking skills (e.g., Au, Knightly, Jun & Oh, 2002; Carreira & Kagan, 2011). These aural strengths lend themselves well to interpreting contexts and may lead to stronger performance in aptitude testing when language skills are used as a proxy for interpreting readiness. Moreover, Montrul (2016) indicates that the majority language of HL speakers is often stronger or equally as strong as the heritage language. As such, these speakers could present greater parity in language proficiency than their L2 counterparts. Explicit recognition of these stages of bilingualism may elucidate our understanding of T&I pedagogy. More research is needed in this area in order to determine whether this potential indication in the literature bears out in empirical data.

Likewise, interpreting aptitude has accounted not only for language proficiency, but also social dimensions of aptitude, such as a willingness to help others communicate (see Russo, 2011 for an overview of aptitude testing). This aspect of interpreter aptitude may align with previous HL speaker experiences such as mediating between their languages as language brokers. Moreover, while professional experience has been used in aptitude testing, the lived experiences of HL speakers or language brokers may equally figure into their ability to perform in interpreting classes. Nevertheless, interpreting studies research ought to consider whether research participants are HL speakers who have been tacitly incorporated into experimental designs. Subpopulations in the interpreting studies literature have been demonstrated to impact the field’s collective understanding of specific constructs. The inclusion of HL demographic information in interpreting studies may begin to elucidate this aspect.

In interpreting training contexts, HL speakers might benefit from the implementation of macrobased teaching strategies much like those shown to be useful in HL teaching. In macrobased teaching, the students’ abilities and background knowledge serve as the foundation for instruction (Carreira, 2016a). On the one hand, HL speakers should be encouraged to reflect on their experiences mediating between their two languages for themselves and others. To do so, interpreting trainers can introduce sociolinguistically-oriented lessons on multilingualism and related phenomena such as language brokering. Leeman and Serafini’s (2016) recommended resources and sample exercises could be a useful starting point to introduce the topic of multilingualism in the United States. Similarly, Carreira and Beeman’s (2014) volume, which collects personal narratives of young Latinos in the U.S., might promote reflection on the role of some HL speakers as language brokers. On the other hand, instructors could focus on interpreting tasks that reflect the brokering tasks often described in the ethnographic research (e.g., Orellana, Reynolds, Dorner & Meza, 2003) and progressively include additional domains. In doing so, students are able to build on previous knowledge and experience to develop interpreting skills. However, while these HL teaching strategies appear promising in their application to interpreting education, we recognize that these remain untested and additional research is needed to see whether these pedagogical approaches maintain their utility when applied to interpreting.

2.2. Peer-to-peer teaching

Another potential opportunity for HL speakers in the interpreting classroom is the opportunity for peer-to-peer teaching. Research on student-centered, collaborative pedagogy has demonstrated that peer-to-peer strategies are an effective means for developing translation competence (González-Davies, 2004, 2018). In the case of HL speakers, a mixed interpreting classroom of L2 and HL speakers may allow for peer teaching and instruction in linguistic and cultural aspects of interpreting interaction. For instance, while L2 learners may need support in their L2 language, HL speakers may require support in the other language. Consequently, a combination of both types of students in the course may prove useful in language acquisition and development. According to Carreira (2016b), the differences identified between the experiences and profiles of the two groups of students suggest that they complement each other, and more research on mixed classrooms might help understand if these findings hold in interpreting classes.

Peer assessment has also been proffered as a potential pedagogical technique in the interpreting classroom (e.g., Moser-Mercer, 2015; Setton & Dawrant, 2016), and a diverse range of both L2 and HL speakers may enrich this experience. Language acquisition is not necessarily the goal of interpreter education; however, a heterogeneous group of students may allow for a wider range of options for interpreting renditions and account for regional variations in language. Such is the case particularly for Spanish in the U.S., with demographic data demonstrating a diversity of voices and cultural heritages (see Fee et al., 2014). Moreover, the previous work on interpreting as a language teaching technique illustrates the usefulness of interpreting to develop linguistic proficiency.

Several critical pedagogy strategies may be useful to take advantage of the linguistic diversity in the interpreting classroom. For instance, the strategies proposed by Carreira (2016b) to group students with differing skill sets can facilitate peer-to-peer learning. Likewise, collaborative, translation-based activities, such as those proposed by González-Davies (2004) and Carreres, Norriega Sánchez and Claduch (2018), could serve as a model for task-based interpreting tasks to promote learning among students. These strategies help provide additional forms of feedback beyond teacher-to-student assessment and foster autonomous learning, such as those described by Motta (2016). Like the HL pedagogical practices described in the previous section, these teaching strategies require further research to determine their impact on interpreting education. Nevertheless, their utility in other pedagogical contexts might serve as a starting point for future research-based interpreting pedagogy specific to HL learners.

CONCLUSION

Heritage language speakers and their participation in interpreting courses present a number of challenges and opportunities given their unique skillsets and profile. The present review of the literature illustrates how research in HL education is useful to understanding how interpreting pedagogy may be influenced by linguistic and extralinguistic knowledge and proficiency of HL speakers. Moreover, T&I as a language development tool (i.e., pedagogic translation) requires major inquiry to understand their relationship, with HL learners providing an opportunity to evaluate different aspects of language development that cannot necessarily be accounted for by balanced early bilinguals or L2 learners.

Additional reflection is needed to address the intersections between language brokering, heritage language speakers, and ad hoc interpreters. Non-professional interpreting and translation is an umbrella term that encompasses all three of these groups, yet much of the research tends to treat these in isolation rather than investigating how ad hoc interpreters or language brokers perform when moving into educational or professional contexts. The incorporation of demographic information about research participants in interpreting studies that specifically inquiries about heritage languages may be a first step in examining these intersections.

In sum, research on HL learners’ participation in interpreting courses may allow researchers to better understand how their participation can influence the educational experience of interpreting students. Explicit recognition of their background may serve as a means to empower HL speakers and develop existing skills for professional gain. In doing so, educators may provide an avenue to normalize an activity that many of these students have performed informally and develop those skills into a professional asset.

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Nota

1 Interpreting studies as a discipline, however, has conducted empirical research on interpreting since its inception. For instance, works by , , and all demonstrate experimental and quasi-experimental approaches to investigating the interpreting task, and have subsequently been integrated into interpreting pedagogy and aptitude testing.

2 The somewhat tenuous relationship between language programs, translation, and interpreting is being revisited by scholars who have argued that these fields are mutually beneficial and that they should not be at odds (e.g., ; ; ; ).

3 The terms ‘heritage language speaker’ and ‘heritage language learner’ will be used interchangeably for the purposes of this article. See Fairclough (2005) for a discussion of the differences between the two terms.

4 Grosjean’s (, ) Complementarity Principle may explain this phenomenon. This principle posits that bilinguals acquire and use their language for different purposes and in different domains and posits that “the level of fluency attained in a language skill will depend on the need for that language and will be domain-specific. (...). If a language is never used for a particular purpose, it will not develop the linguistic properties needed for that purpose” (: 68).

5 The concept of ‘incomplete’ has been challenged by some sociolinguists (e.g., ) who emphasize that, although their grammatical systems are often simplified and divergent from monolingual grammatical systems, they are complete. For an overview of bilingualism and order of language acquisition, see .

6 For a detailed discussion of the objectives of HL education, see .

7 For Spanish, it is estimated that the lexical knowledge of an educated monolingual native speaker can go up to 30,000 words, while community members share between 3,000 and 5,000 words ().



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