Information for Heritage Speakers of Spanish

How do I know if I am a heritage speaker?

You are a heritage speaker… 

  • If you grew up in a home where Spanish was spoken and one or both of your parents are of Hispanic origin. 
  • If you speak Spanish with your family, relatives and/or friends.

How do I know if Spanish 21 or 22 is the right class for me?

  • If you are a heritage speaker and you can have an informal conversation in Spanish, then Spanish 21 or 22 is a good class for you.
  • If you are a native speaker that came to the US as a child and your first language was Spanish then it is also an appropriate option.

Contact the director of the Spanish language program Dr. Miriam Hernández-R. mhernan@berkeley.edu    

How do I decide which class is better for me? 

Enroll in Spanish 21

  • If you can have a conversation and use informal Spanish (using Spanglish is OK).
  • If you have not taken any previous Spanish classes.
  • If English grammar structures and vocabulary influence your Spanish 

Enroll in Spanish 22

  • If you have taken one or more Spanish course in high school or community college
  • If you have taken the AP Language or Literature class and your score was 4 or lower.

Note: If we find you are advanced for the class you enrolled in, you will be contacted and switched to the right class.

What is the difference between Spanish 21 and 22?

The differences are the topics covered in the course and the students’ proficiency levels.  The information below provides a general reference about the proficiency levels.  

Students in Spanish 22 …

  • Can understand and use sophisticated vocabulary to talk and write.
  • Can read and understand general ideas and complex academic texts
  • Can write using a variety of verbal tenses and grammar structures.
  • Still need to develop academic Spanish 
  • Are aware of the use of Spanglish and still need to develop oral and written language proficiency.

Students in Spanish 21 …

  • Make frequent pauses to think about words in Spanish or use Spanglish, but the conversation flows.
  • Need to learn and develop a variety of verb tenses, but can communicate using present and past tenses.
  • Mostly use informal Spanish and find it difficult to distinguish between formal and informal language.

Why can’t I take Spanish 1-4?

Spanish 1-4 are courses for second language learners, which means students that learn Spanish at school. In most cases, students lack a Hispanic cultural background, speak slower and it’s harder for them to understand the spoken language. Imagine they have an empty space in the brain called Spanish where the teacher needs to put “boxes with information” (vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar and culture) for them to be able to understand and use the language. On the other hand, as a heritage learner, you already have all those “boxes with information”, and you just need to expand the Spanish you already have in your brain, so taking a Spanish 1-4 courses will not advance your language skills. You may think that taking Spanish 1-4 courses will help you to fill the gaps you have in Spanish, but that is not true. However, In Spanish 21 and 22 you will learn what you need to in a personalized way, which includes filling the gaps you think you have, and you will be graded based on your individual progress. 

Do I need to take Spanish 21 and 22 before taking Spanish 25?

  • It is recommended to take Spanish 22 before Spanish 25, but if your writing and analytical skills are appropriate for Spanish 25, you don’t have to take it.

Can I take Spanish 22 and 25 at the same time?

It is not recommended, but there may be some exceptions. Contact the director of the Spanish language program to request permission: Dr. Miriam Hernández-R. mhernan@berkeley.edu    

Does Spanish 21 or 22 fulfill my language requirement?

  • If your language requirement indicates that you need the equivalence of the third or fourth semester or second year equivalence, then yes, Spanish 21 or 22 fulfills that language requirement.

Note: Read your language requirement carefully. If it indicates Spanish 4 as a course to fulfill the requirement but you are a heritage speaker, please note that you cannot take Spanish 4. Instead take Spanish 21 or 22, depending on your proficiency level.


Course Descriptions

Spanish 21 

In this class, you will develop and apply critical thinking skills through discussion, and by reading and writing about topics of Identity, Human Rights, Spanglish and Hispanics in the U.S. as presented in a variety of texts. This includes films, literary and non-literary prose, as well as Internet resources. You will build upon the language you already speak to develop formal/academic oral and written registers. Through the readings, you will learn about different aspects of the Hispanic culture within and outside of the U.S. and reflect on this content through diary and essay writing, discussions and presentations. You will also have writing workshops to learn the features of academic language and to prepare you for your final research paper and presentation.  This course requires six hours of outside preparation  per week in addition to your three hours in class. 

Students enrolled in Spanish 21 must be sufficiently fluent to carry on an informal conversation in Spanish about everyday topics. This course is for students who learned Spanish at home. It is not open to second language learners of Spanish.

*During the first week of classes, students may be placed in a different language course based on their language proficiency. 

Spanish 22 

In this course, you will continue to develop oral and written academic language beyond the level attained in Spanish 21 or in previous Spanish courses. You will also develop and apply critical thinking skills by having discussions and reading and writing about topics of Identity, Globalization, Spanglish and Prejudice as presented in a variety of texts. This includes films, literary and non-literary prose, as well as Internet resources. You will build upon the language you already speak to develop formal/academic oral and written registers as well as to use more sophisticated vocabulary and grammar structures. Through the reading, you will learn about different aspects of the Hispanic culture within and outside of the US and reflect on the content writing diaries, essays, discussions and presentations. You will also have writing workshops to learn the features of academic language and to prepare you for your final research paper and presentation.  This course requires six hours of outside preparation per week in addition to your three hours in class. 

Students enrolled in Spanish 22 must be fluent enough to carry on an informal conversation in Spanish about everyday topics and identify formal from informal language. This course is for students who learned Spanish at home. It is not open to second language learners of Spanish.

*During the first week of classes, students may be placed in a different language course based on their language proficiency.