Teaching Spanish to Native Spanish Speakers Web site

The Alliance has redesigned the Teaching Spanish to Native Spanish Speakers (SNS) Web site to make information about the Spanish-speaking population in the United States and resources for working with Spanish speakers in Spanish language programs more readily available. Learn more.


The Alliance has developed the Heritage Voices Collection, an online series designed to allow heritage language speakers and programs to share their unique voices with visitors to our Web site. Learn more.

About Us

Language Representatives

Language Representatives collaborate with the Alliance in leadership capacities in a language area or geographical area of the country and contribute to the work of the Alliance in one or more of the following ways:


James Elwell
General Language Representative

James Elwell

James Elwell is a teacher in Virginia who advocates for heritage language literacy. He encourages learners to speak, read, and write in their first language in order to build their skills as a resource for learning additional languages. As a Language Representative, James profiles heritage language programs in his community and seeks opportunities to tell others about the mission and work of the Alliance. James studied Spanish and International Studies as an undergraduate at Virginia Tech and then earned a master's degree in Education: Curriculum and Instruction for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and Spanish. His research interests include assessment, English language learner literacy, and academic achievement. In 2011, he was an intern at CAL. He continues to teach and take graduate level courses while advocating for multilingual literacy. Contact James Elwell.

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Dr. Surendra Gambhir
South Asian Languages

Dr. Surendra Gambhir

Dr. Gambhir is collecting profiles of heritage language programs (community-based, K-12, and higher education) that focus on development of South Asian languages, with a specific focus on Hindi and Urdu. He would love to hear from you and profile your program. Contact Dr. Gambhir.

Professor Gambhir was a distinguished member of the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania between 1973 and 2008. His research in the Caribbean countries and the United States has focused on language preservation and decay in immigrant communities. He has been an active participant in the heritage languages movement in the United States for over ten years, with a specialty in Hindi and Urdu. He was a visiting professor at Cornell University and University of Wisconsin, founding Director of the Penn-in-India study-abroad program, Chair of the Language Committee of the American Institute of Indian Studies, and academic director of 13 study abroad South Asian language programs (1998-2007). He has been member/ chair of many national and international committees and a keynote speaker in various national and international meetings in India, Prague, Mauritius, and the United States. He was an invited speaker at the Regional Hindi Conference in Tokyo in 2006, and was recently honored at the World Hindi Convention in New York in 2007 as one of the 27 international scholars of Hindi. He is the author/co-author of five books and numerous articles in linguistics, language pedagogy, Sanskrit literature, study abroad programs, and the Indian diaspora. He has contributed to international journals and encyclopedias and has authored many pedagogic materials for Hindi, including textbooks and proficiency tests. He has conducted language pedagogy workshops and has been consultant to Hindi language programs in the United States. His published articles on heritage language issues include “Truly Less Commonly Taught Languages and Heritage Languages in the United States” in Heritage Languages in America: Preserving a National Resource.

Visit the web pages focusing on South Asian languages and culture.

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Simone Hrouda
Czech

Simone Hrouda

Simone Hrouda is a Czech heritage speaker from Portland, Oregon, interested in further developing Czech language learning opportunities for Czech language learners in the United States. She believes ancestry plays an important role in ethnic identity and wants Czech heritage speakers to have available opportunities to maintain their Czech language skills. She works in collaboration with the Alliance to form and expand the network of Czech schools in the United States. Her research interests include Czech language in the United States, Czech language learning opportunities, Czech heritage language speakers, and Czech-English bilinguals. She is interested in any programs, schools, or organizations dedicated to preserving the Czech language and culture. If you have any information on a Czech language learning opportunity in the United States, she would love to hear from you. Contact Simone Hrouda.

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Dr. Miriam Isaacs
Hebrew, Yiddish, and Ladino

Dr. Miriam Isaacs

Dr. Miriam Isaacs has a distinguished academic and advocacy career, having first spent many years in New York state, fighting for funding and legislation to promote high-quality public higher education. For the past 25 years  she has been an educator, devoting herself to scholarship and teaching in the area of bilingualism and specifically in Jewish Studies, especially with respect to her native language, Yiddish. She has lectured widely and taught at universities and community and arts settings. For the past 16 years she has been a visiting  Associate Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park. There she sponsored a major conference on the geopolitics of Jewish languages, the best known being Hebrew, Yiddish, and Ladino. She holds a doctorate in linguistics from Cornell University and she has published widely on Jewish languages and on challenges to cultural continuity and heritage. Contact Dr. Isaacs.

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Silvia Košćak
Croatian

Silvia Koscak

Silvia Košćak graduated in May 2010 from Arizona State University with her MA in Applied Linguistics. She works with the Alliance for the Advancement of Heritage Languages to form and expand the network of Croatian schools in the United States so that heritage speakers have opportunities to develop their Croatian language skills. She believes it is important to preserve the language and culture of Croatian-American communities, because an important ingredient in a Croatian’s cultural identity is maintenance of the language. Silvia is interested in documenting language learning opportunities such as organizations or schools dedicated to preserving the Croatian language and culture. She is contacting and profiling community-based Croatian heritage language programs across the United States. If you have any information on a Croatian language learning program in the United States, she would love to hear from you. Contact Silvia Koš?ak.

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Benoît Le Dévédec
French

Benoît Le Dévédec

Benoît Le Dévédec is the coordinator of the French Heritage Language Program, a position previously held by David Lasserre. The program currently serves about 350 students in New York and Florida and will soon open in Maine. The French Heritage Language Program helps underserved students of Francophone background preserve and enrich their knowledge of French while maintaining strong links with their cultures and identities. Born in France, Benoît graduated from the Université de Bretagne Sud, Lorient, and the Université de Rennes 2 in France, specializing in the English speaking world, teaching, and promotion of the French language. He taught French and English for several years from primary school to higher education levels (in France, England, and Belgium) and developed education partnerships with India, Africa, and the United States. He recently worked as a cultural attaché in Belgium, where he was in charge of setting up bilingual streams of education. Benoît works with the Alliance by collecting profiles of community-based French heritage language programs. He would love to hear from you and profile your program. Contact Benoît.

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Hye-Sook Lee
Korean

Hye-Sook Lee

Hye-Sook Lee is from South Korea and is enrolled in the Ph.D. program of Language, Literacy, and Culture at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in German Language and Literacy in South Korea and Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Information Science and Comparing Cultural Studies in Germany. Her current doctoral research focuses on the impact of an online teacher training program on teachers working with English language learners. She works with the Heritage Language Alliance at the Center for Applied Linguistics, documenting Korean, Turkish, and German heritage language programs and writing about their importance in the United States. Contact Hye-Sook Lee.

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Dr. Tommy Lu
Chinese

Dr. Tommy Lu

Dr. Tommy Lu has been actively involved with the Chinese heritage language school system in teaching and administration for many years. He is a member of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), Chinese Language Teachers Association (CLTA), and Chinese Language Association of Secondary-Elementary Schools (CLASS). He has served as a teacher and now the principal of the Chinese School of Delaware, past president of the Association of Chinese Schools (ACS), and past president of the National Council of Associations of Chinese Language Schools (NCACLS).  He is also active in several community organizations such as Lions Club International. Dr. Lu is interested in building a platform for all community-based schools using the community of practice approach so community members can collaborate, share what they have learned, and improve their teaching and learning. Dr. Lu received his doctoral degree in curriculum design and education technology. He works with the Alliance by collecting profiles of community-based Chinese heritage language programs. He would love to hear from you and profile your program. Contact Dr. Lu.

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Dr. Renate Ludanyi
German

Dr. Renate Ludanyi

Dr. Renate Ludanyi is creating a network of community-based heritage language schools in Connecticut and has created a network among German schools in the United States. Dr. Ludanyi is the president of the umbrella organization, the German Language School Conference (GLSC). In this connection she also works with the German school authorities and government agencies in the Federal Republic of Germany responsible for German schools abroad.

Being strongly convinced that "the cultural heritage of the German-speaking countries of Europe and their language [should] not be lost among the German-speaking descendants in the United States, and that knowing German opens doors to global commerce and science," Dr. Ludanyi has made community-based German schools a welcoming place for those interested in studying German and learning about its cultures

Dr. Ludanyi is the president, co-founder, and principal of the German School in Connecticut (GSC). The idea of founding the GSC was a reaction to the decline of the teaching of German language in Connecticut schools in the late 1970s. Since its founding in 1978, Dr. Ludanyi, in collaboration with parents and many volunteers, has made the GSC a success and was able to strengthen cultural ties among members of the German-speaking community in Connecticut.

Her efforts to sustain awareness about the need to reinforce German heritage culture and language and offer a modern portrayal of post-war Germany in the U.S. were recognized when she received the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

She is the director of the German Studies Center and a professor of German at Western Connecticut State University. Her research includes demographic data in regard to the students in the German heritage language schools and issues regarding curriculum, teaching, testing, and teacher training specifically in the area of German heritage language schools. She has given workshops and lectures on these topics in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. She has developed the only manual and teaching material for young children in American German heritage schools, which was funded by Central Agency for Schools Abroad, Cologne, Germany, and published by the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG). Contact Dr. Ludanyi.

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Dr. Valerie Malabonga
Tagalog

Dr. Valerie Malabonga

Valerie Malabonga has a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology and is a consultant at the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL), in Washington, DC, where she was previously a staff member for 10 years. While Valerie was a CAL staff member, she conducted research assessing the language and literacy development of bilingual children and developed Filipino tests for children and adults for other organizations. Valerie is a member of a Filipino-American organization. She and her husband, Dan, are attempting to raise their son, Julius, as a Filipino-English bilingual. Most of their relatives live in the Philippines, which they visit fairly regularly. Retaining the Filipino language is important to Valerie and her family, because it maintains their cultural identity and enhances their relationships with their Filipino relatives and friends in the United States and the Philippines. Valerie is also an avid reader and loves to read Filipino novels. Her son Julius recently discovered Filipino-English children’s books. Valerie is a parent and volunteer teacher at Paaralang Pinoy Filipino School, and Julius is a student.

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Dr. Kim Potowski
Spanish

Dr. Kim Potowski

Dr. Kim Potowski works with the Alliance as a Spanish language representative in the Midwest, specifically working with heritage language schools in Chicago. Dr. Potowski directs the Heritage Language Cooperative, a multidisciplinary initiative housed in the Department of Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Participants conduct original research on heritage language communities in the Chicago area. If you are interested in collaborating on a project involving a heritage language in the Chicago area, please contact Dr. Potowski.

Dr. Potowski is Associate Professor of Hispanic linguistics at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she directs a Spanish for heritage speakers program. Her research focuses on Spanish in the United States. Her publications include a book about a dual immersion school, Language and identity in a dual immersion school (Multilingual Matters, 2007) and recent studies about discourse markers, Spanish use in Chicago quinceañeras, and ethnolinguistic identity among “MexiRican” individuals. Her most recent book, Language Diveristy in the U.S. (Cambridge University Press, 2009) profiles the top 11 non-English languages spoken in the United States, with special chapters devoted to Native American languages, language contact, and language policy. She has given lectures, workshops, and courses around the United States, Canada, and Spain on teaching Spanish to heritage speakers. She is executive editor of the journal Spanish in Context. She has developed a curriculum for teaching Spanish to Spanish speakers, described in an article and soon to be available online (Potowski, Berne, Clark, & Hammerand, 2008, Spanish for K-8 heritage speakers: A standards-based curriculum project. Hispania, 91(1), 25-41).

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Dr. Chang Pu
Chinese

Dr. Chang Pu

Dr. Pu is supporting the Alliance by profiling community-based Chinese heritage language programs. In addition, she plans to work to establish coalitions and collaboration between the Alliance and Chinese heritage language schools, share information and resources from the Alliance with heritage language practitioners, support heritage language teachers’ professional development, conduct research on heritage language issues, and make conference presentations on her research. Contact Dr. Chang.

Dr. Chang Pu is an Assistant Professor of Teacher Education (ESOL) at Berry College, GA. Her research interests include language minority education (heritage language education, ESL, and bilingual education), second language teaching and learning, classroom-based research in language and literacy development, and language teacher preparation. She has published on language minority education, language planning, and discourse analysis. She conducted a series of research projects with her colleagues on Chinese American students’ heritage language learning, language use, and identity construction in Chinese heritage language classrooms.

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Ezzeddine Saidi
Arabic

Ezzedine Saidi

Ezzeddine Saidi was Scholar in Residence for the Alliance for the Advancement of Heritage Languages at the Center for Applied Linguistics in the summer 2009. His tasks at CAL included writing profiles and spotlights of two French and German heritage languages programs. Ezzeddine is a native speaker of Arabic and teaches general and applied linguistics at the Higher Institute of Languages, University of Gabes, Tunisia. He is committed to working with the Alliance from his country by helping with writing profiles, spotlights, and heritage voices on Arabic and French. Ezzeddine is looking forward to receiving information about Arabic and French heritage language programs in the US and will be happy to work with these programs to add them to the Alliance database. Contact Ezzeddine Saidi.

Ezzeddine is a PhD candidate in the Applied Linguistics program at the Higher Institute of Languages, University of Tunis, Tunisia. His PhD research project t is on “Evaluation of Tunisian EFL teachers’ pre-and in-service EFL teacher training: Exploring the form and content of teacher development and its impact on classroom practice.” His other research interests include the teaching of English as a second/foreign language (ESL/EFL) and language-in-education planning and policy.

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Daniela Schiano di Cola
Italian

Daniela SchianodiCola

Daniela graduated in 2009 from the College of William and Mary, where she studied Linguistics with a concentration on heritage language policy and education. Her research interests include heritage language education and methodology, foreign and heritage language policy, and linguistic discrimination. In the spring of 2009, Daniela co-founded a student-run organization, Heritage Language Learners of William and Mary (HelloWM), which seeks to expand the breadth of heritage and foreign languages taught on campus. The organization connects students who want to teach their heritage languages with those who want to learn their heritage languages. Learn more about HelloWM's mission and initiatives at www.hellowm.org. Daniela is working with the Alliance by contacting and profiling community-based Italian heritage language programs. Contact Daniela Schiano di Cola.

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Corinne Seals
Ukrainian

Corinne Seals picture

Corinne Seals (Mykytka) works with the Alliance as a Ukrainian language and community representative, connecting with east coast and west coast programs. She also actively works with the Alliance by writing briefs on both Ukrainian heritage language education and issues of general interest for heritage language researchers and communities. Corinne is a PhD candidate in Linguistics at Georgetown University. She received her MS in Linguistics from Georgetown University and her BA in Sociocultural Linguistics from UC Santa Barbara. She worked with the Alliance as an intern in the spring of 2012 and currently works with both the Alliance and the Language Policy Research Network. With a Ukrainian background, Corinne is involved with Ukrainian and Russian cultural organizations around the country. Contact Corinne Seals.

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Simhah Tamar
Hebrew

Simhah Tamar's picture

Simhah Tamar has an interdisciplinary bachelors’ degree, which combines linguistics and psychology courses. She has a graduate certificate in Teaching English Second Language (TESL), with 27 graduate-level courses in linguistics. Simhah’s first language is a dialect of English called Gullah. She began to learn French before starting elementary school and subsequently began to learn formal American English. Simhah is fluent in Biblical Hebrew and at the novice level in Israeli Hebrew. She is researching, documenting, and creating Heritage Voices on Hebrew as a religious and modern living cultural heritage language and on Hebrew schools for the Alliance. Contact Simhah Tamar.

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Celia Chomón Zamora
Spanish

Celia Chomon Zamora

Celia Chomón Zamora graduated in May 2011, from Florida International University with an MA in Linguistics. Born in Venezuela and raised in Miami, Florida, she became interested in heritage language speakers when she witnessed several of her Hispanic colleagues become upset or embarrassed when they were losing their native Spanish language proficiency due to the pressures that come with fully assimilating to the American culture and speaking English. Celia is working as a full-time English and Japanese teacher in Miami, as well as an adjunct professor in Miami-Dade College, where she is seeking to establish separate classes for students learning Spanish as a foreign language and those learning Spanish as a heritage language. She plans to pursue her doctorate in linguistics with a focus on heritage language speakers and second language acquisition. With the Alliance, Celia is contacting and documenting community-based Spanish, Japanese, Dari, and Swahili heritage language programs. Contact Celia Chomón Zamora.

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Luyun Zhang
Chinese

Luyun Zhang

Luyun Zhang works as an Alliance Chinese language representative to help build the online collection of program profiles and to inform language educators about the work of the Alliance. Luyun obtained her bachelor's degree from Shanghai International Studies University in China and her master's degree from George Mason University, where she concentrated on curriculum development and Chinese language instruction. She worked at the Center for Applied Linguistics while completing graduate studies. Currently, she is a lead Chinese teacher for an immersion school in New York City. Luyun grew up in Shanghai, China, where her family taught her the value of education and Chinese culture. Through their inspiration, she continues to promote her heritage language and culture. In addition, she is interested in bilingual and early childhood education and drama. Contact Luyun Zhang.

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Xiaoni Zhang
Chinese and General Language Representative

Xiaoni Zhang

Xiaoni (Sunny) Zhang is an Alliance language representative helping to build the online collection of program profiles, write Heritage Voices on heritage language programs, and support other aspects of Alliance work. Xiaoni obtained her master's degree in Linguistics from the University of California at Davis, where she concentrated on TESOL and Chinese language instruction. She worked at the Center for Applied Linguistics as a Heritage Alliance Intern in the fall 2011. She is actively involved in Chinese community schools in the Greater Washington area. Contact Xiaoni Zhang.

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