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Spanish for Bilingual Speakers (Spanish Heritage Language Track)

This language track offers Spanish language classes for individuals that grew up speaking Spanish at home or other environments and have some proficiency in the Spanish language.

Our mission is to provide a suitable educational experience for our bilingual/bicultural students. We appreciate the linguistic and cultural diversity that our bilingual students bring to the classroom. We are committed to support the maintenance and development of the Spanish language along with the exploration of the rich cultures of the Spanish-speaking world, especially those surrounding the multicultural and borderland space that we inhabit. The Spanish Heritage Language Track has been created to help bilingual/bicultural students expand their skills in Spanish, as well as to build a better understanding of their heritage culture. Our main goal is to improve communication in Spanish through the development of academic language skills, including speaking and writing, at the same time that identity and cultural heritage topics are explored. The courses in this track are designed to meet the linguistic and cultural needs of bilingual/bicultural individuals also known as heritage speakers of Spanish.  

There are two different tracks in the Spanish language program:

  • Spanish for second language learners (SPAN 101, 102, 201, 202, 211, 212, 301, 302)
  • Spanish for bilingual/heritage learners (SPAN 181, 281, 282, 381)

Students are allowed to take one track or the other.

This language track is for students that:

  • Learned Spanish in a non-academic environment.
  • Learned Spanish from their parents, grandparents or by living in a Spanish-speaking country for a period of time.
  • Can communicate in Spanish, but don’t have much experience reading or writing in Spanish.
  • Understand Spanish very well and, to a certain extent, read and write in Spanish.

Contrary to the Spanish as a Second Language Program, the Spanish Heritage Language Track requires basic knowledge of the language (proficiency in Spanish varies greatly among heritage speakers). Due to the fact that the cultural and linguistic needs of second language learners and heritage language learners are different, we offer Spanish courses specially designed for heritage speakers to further develop their preexisting language skills.   


Second Language Learners (L2L) Heritage Language Learners (HLL)
Might not have a cultural connection with the language Cultural connection with the language
Not necessarily have previous knowledge of the Spanish language Preexisting knowledge of the Spanish language
Better writing skills than speaking skills Better speaking skills than writing skills
Metalinguistic knowledge (e.g. identify grammatical tenses, parts of speech) Little or no metalinguistic knowledge 
Little or no knowledge of the target culture  Broad knowledge of the target culture


  • Appreciating the heritage language
  • Expanding writing skills (e.g. academic, professional, creative writing)
  • Expanding conversational skills in formal situations
  • Exploring the cultural heritage of U.S. Latinx
  • Creating communities and sharing similar experiences with others U.S. Latinx at SDSU
  • Developing critical awareness about bilingualism issues in the U.S.
  • Prepare students for a Spanish minor/major

These courses are open to students that self-identify or are identified as heritage speakers of Spanish. If you identify as such, we highly recommend taking these courses as they have been designed especially for you. We do not recommend you taking courses in the Second Language Track because the teaching methodology is not tailored to your cultural and linguistic needs.

  • SPAN 181. Elementary Spanish for U.S. Hispanics (3) [GE]
    Replaces SPAN 101 and 102
    Prerequisite: Exposure to Spanish in the home and/or community

  • SPAN 281. Intermediate Spanish for U.S. Hispanics I (3) [GE] 
    Replaces SPAN 201 and 211 
    Prerequisite: Spanish 181

  • SPAN 282. Intermediate Spanish for U.S. Hispanics II (3) [GE]
    Replaces SPAN 202 and 212 
    Prerequisite: Spanish 281

  • SPAN 381. Advanced Spanish for Spanish Speakers (3)
    Replaces SPAN 301 and 302 
    Prerequisite: Spanish 282

Each course of the Heritage Language Track (181, 281, 282, and 381) is equivalent to two courses on the Second Language Track. You can fulfill your language requirement faster and start the Spanish major/minor sooner if you plan to major or minor in Spanish.



For further information contact the undergraduate advisor, Paola Martínez at [email protected] or Prof. Rosalva Alamillo at [email protected]

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