LatCrit Lab

Research Projects

Our interdisciplinary and inter-institutional research projects expand upon antiracist research methodologies and pedagogical approaches for sociolinguistic justice. A primary objective for the LatCrit Lab is redefining how we understand regimes of language ideologies in the U.S. and along the border region with Mexico. We seek to demonstrate that Spanish-English bilingualism used in Southern California and other parts of the United States is not a 'broken' form of Spanish or English, but rather, a complex set of linguistic practices that reflect a vibrant borderlands culture and knowledge base. Moreover, our Critical Pedagogy projects, including our Open Educational Resources (OER) and our newsletter, allow us to expand and disseminate these findings, supporting educators to center their students' learning on their intuitive bilingual modes of thought and expression and their affective, intellectual, and identity development.

Bilingual Native Perception

This is a project in collaboration with Dr. Eve Higby at California State University, East Bay. This mixed-methods study assesses levels of awareness of stigmatization of Mexican Spanish in Southern California. This research investigates bilingual speakers' perceptions of certain Spanish forms in Southern California such as English borrowings (e.g. “random”) and Mexican caló (e.g. “vato”). The potential pedagogical implications of this study are extensive given that many Spanish programs operate under the assumption that Spanish is a “foreign” language and U.S. Spanish forms (Spanglish), should be corrected. Such attitudes reflect converse racialization (Mena & Garcia, 2020) where U.S. varieties become unmarked as “Spanish-elsewhere” while disassociated from the language that people speak in the Latinx community in the U.S. This project is being sponsored by the Just Futures Mellon grant for UCR.

Caló y español mexicano en la frontera

This is a project in colaboration with Dr. Luz María Ede Hernández at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Documented from at least the 1930s and 1940s Caló is described as a sociolect of the Southwest region of the U.S., including the Mexican border region. In recent years, the use of Caló has experienced a resurgence in various social and cultural sectors, most notably in the written press in Juárez, Chihuahua. Hence, this study centers on several headings of the a newspaper in this border city. This study analyzes the social implications of these uses of Caló. The extension of Caló in this newspaper indexes a reinforcing masculine border identity of social resistance. Not only are these uses interesting at the linguistic level as innovative morpho-syntactic creations, but they also reveal core Mexican border ideologies, and covert notions of prestige that are being deployed through these language uses. This analysis in turn may help in elucidating an understanding of current social changes connected to socioeconomic factors manifested more saliently on the Mexico-US border. This project is being sponsored by the Just Futures Mellon grant for UCR.

Investigación en Pedagogías Críticas e inclusivas y la Estructura Relacional para la innovación de materiales didácticos en español para personas Sordas universitarias en la frontera entre México y Estados Unidos

Este es un proyecto en colaboración con la Dra. María Angélica Castro Caballero de la Universidad Autónoma de Baja California (UABC) Campus Mexicali. Esta es una iniciativa innovadora de colaboración que crea vínculos permanentes entre UC Riverside y la UABC Campus Mexicali. Este es un proyecto de investigación sobre la adquisición y desarrollo de neologismos académicos en el español y en la lengua de señas de personas Sordas, estudiantes de nivel universitario, que habitan la región fronteriza entre México y los Estados Unidos. Desde la lingüística aplicada crítica, esta investigación desarrolla materiales didácticos innovativos. En muchas ocasiones los y las educadoras en la educación superior, no se percatan de las dinámicas sociales que perpetúan la marginalización de las personas Sordas. Esta investigación busca desarrollar por medio de Pedagogías Críticas, descoloniales e inclusivas, metodologías de la enseñanza que atenderán de mejor manera a las necesidades de aprendizaje de los y las estudiantes Sordas. Debido a que la primera lengua de la mayoría de los y las estudiantes Sordas es la Lengua de Señas Mexicana (LSM), una lengua visual, nuestra propuesta considera el acercamiento teórico de la Estructura Relacional (Castro Caballero, 2015) como método de análisis gráfico para el desarrollo del material didáctico visual. Así, este estudio tiene el objetivo principal de investigar el impacto del material didáctico propuesto para el desarrollo de las habilidades comunicativas académicas en español de los y las estudiantes Sordas en el nivel superior. Este proyecto está patrocinado por una beca UC Mexus-CONACYT.

CriSoLL Project

This project expands upon our current research in Critical Sociocultural Linguistic Literacy (CriSoLL) for the Spanish as a Heritage Language (SHL) classroom. Whereas models of Spanish language teaching have traditionally focused on the acquisition of a standard or prestige variety, ours center on how Latinx Spanish-English bilingualism can become a more dynamic and inclusive lingua franca that challenges outdated ideas of languages as static entities discreetly tied to national identities. As we look beyond what proves to be an elusive and arbitrary standard or prestige variety of Spanish and draw out our students’ local Spanish-English bilingual varieties. Our aim is to develop a more inclusive teaching methodology. From a variety of disciplines, and with a common grounding in our research on critical pedagogies, Critical Race Theory, and Latinx and Latin American Studies, we propose a comprehensive sociolinguistic justice and anti-racist curriculum. Our CriSoLL-based OER website,, is designed to be adapted for teaching SHL and L2 learners. Our expansion of this project will allow us to create materials for other subjects such as Latinx literary and cultural studies, race, ethnicity, and Indigenous studies, and transborder human rights and migration studies. This project is being sponsored by the Just Futures Mellon grant for UCR.

Spanglish and Bilingualism in Latinx Studies: A major, a minor, and a national curriculum

This project proposes an interdisciplinary initiative led by the Latino & Latin American Studies Research Center (LLASRC) at the University of California Riverside (UCR) to redesign the Latino and Latin American Studies major and minor while infusing bilingualism throughout both programs. Latinx Studies programs throughout the country have educated broad groups of students in the histories and cultures of this growing demographic group while affirming the identities of Latinx students who typically completed high school without seeing their own experiences in the curriculum. Our project will design a full curriculum that capitalizes upon students’ familiarity with Spanish to teach them deeper skills for engagement with historical, political, and cultural texts and push them to continually analyze the relationship between language and power, all while affirming their real-life bilingual abilities. The project grows from a key insight that PI Claudia Holguín Mendoza developed together with historian Julie Weise (University of Oregon) when they co-taught a bilingual Latinx History class as then-colleagues at the University of Oregon in 2015. This course engaged a broad range of students in interpreting historical primary sources in Spanish and Spanglish by first scaffolding their understanding with lectures and historical context in English. This project has been sponsored by a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, in collaboration with CO-PI Dr. Jorge Leal (History, UCR), Dr. Covadonga Lamar Prieto (Hispanic Studies, UCR), and Dr. Adrián Felix (Ethnic Studies, UCR), among other colleagues at UCR.

Reaching Beyond

Plurilingual & Pluriculturales: A Newsletter on Critical Language Education

Este es un proyecto de desarrollo y aplicaciones pedagógicas críticas y de justicia sociolingüística en todos los niveles de enseñanza, desde K-12 hasta las aulas de educación superior. Los objetivos de este newsletter enfocado al español en contacto con otras lenguas en los Estados Unidos, son los siguientes: (i) Crear una red social con los maestrxs y profesorxs de K-12, de universidades y de colegios comunitarios de las diferentes regiones de los Estados Unidos. (ii) Compartir artículos académicos que sean de utilidad para aplicar en el aula y materiales didácticos -open source- que lxs educadorxs puedan desarrollar con sus estudiantxs. (iii) Promover diferentes eventos artísticos y creativos para que lxs estudiantes puedan participar, desarrollar y mostrar sus habilidades creativas. Cada semestre publicaremos un boletín con información de utilidad pedagógica y de empoderamiento identitario. This project is being sponsored by the Just Futures Mellon grant for UCR.