Language Placement Exams for Heritage Speakers of Spanish: Learning from Students' Mistakes


  • Marta Fairclough

    1. University of Houston
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      Marta Fairclough (PhD, University of Houston) is Assistant Professor of Spanish Linguistics at the University of Houston, Houston, Texas


Student admission into heritage language programs is usually determined by locally designed placement exams. Howevel; there are no norms to guide language teaching professionals in the assessment of this student population. This study looks at placement exams completed by heritage learners of Spanish at the University of Houston. The quantijication and analysis of the verb morphology section from this archival data describe the variation present in the linguistic systems of these learners, making it possible (1) to recognize gaps in the learners' linguistic systems and (2) to identijy major differences between academic Spanish and the students' home-variety language. This information may be useful in the design of a placement exam based on empirical research, and may also serve as a guide for syllabi design and teaching practice.