Mike Peto is a great source on teaching heritage students. He helped create a Facebook page called Teacher of Spanish Heritage Speakers. It’s a good page. I used to be much more involved there. I faded out, though, because so many teachers became members who didn’t have a background in CI or Krashen or FVR. I guess I got selfish. I was doing a lot more giving than receiving (i.e., info and help).
I teach high school heritage classes. My experience is having students that struggle reading in general… reluctant readers… fluent but not literate, to students that are ready for college level literature classes in Spanish, and every level in between. Peto’s classes in California were like that as well. He taught for several years such heritage classes. I agree with him that FVR is the best option for these classes. Get them reading their own texts. Celebrate what they are reading. Get them interested in reading on their own. Low level TPRS novels, high interest young fiction in Spanish, Ocra Soundings as a publisher, Scholastica in Spanish has good non-fiction stuff, graphic novels. Do read-alouds with them. Talk to them about books that you are reading and then offer them a chance to read it. Have students recommend books to each other… Whatever you can do to sustain a FVR program for as long as possible.
That said, I am only able to sustain FVR for so long. A big chunk of my time outside of FVR is with telenovelas. Netflix has a few that are very compelling for high school students. Two we are watching now are Ruta 35 and El Vato. Both great. We watch then discuss a little. But just watching is valuable. It’s like FVR in a way, but using the same text. All of my students look forward to watching the telenovelas. Sometimes we do character studies. Sometimes I have students track scenes and then analyze story development. I’m currently working on having students think like an author of the telenovelas; to think about what they would do to edit or add to make the story even more compelling to the audience.
Other whole group texts come from various places. RadioAmbulante.org is a great source of documentaries about the hispanic world. They’re an offshoot of NPR. I try to get audio texts where I can print the transcript. With the transcript we can do text-handling (i.e., reading or vocab study) exercises.
As far as writing goes, I think it’s super important that we give students opportunities to write informally. They do so much formal writing, persuasive essays and all, that so many students come to despise writing. So, I ask them to narrate or create stories. Right now we are listening to a horror story from Psicofonías (look them up online), analyzing the story in it’s use of good horror story elements, like 1) memorable, graphic scenes, 2) appeal to primal fears, 3) undermining the audience by creating the unexpected (see what James Wan shared publicly on his 5 rules for creating a good horror movie), then I want them to write their own horror story using these elements. We’ll see how it goes.
But I don’t do OWIs with my heritage classes. Granted, if I had more intermediate level students in my heritage classes, I might consider it. But it’s true that my current heritage classes don’t benefit much from me talking to them. They get much more language, and richer language, from, say, a telenovela.