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  • Teachers have known that linguistically the characteristics of heritage Spanish learners are different from those of foreign language students.
  • AATSP has worked to support teachers of Spanish for Native Speakers (SNS) and Spanish for Heritage Learners (SHL). They have published a handbook and done surveys to determine how to help teachers of SNS/SHS.
  • Most colleges have little/no coursework to prepare Spanish teachers for native/heritage students.
  • The NIESHL network emerged as a representation of SNS/SHL teachers or teachers seeking information on how to develop a SNS or SHL program.
  • The NIESHL network began as a way to foster collaboration between Chicago-area teachers and the University of Illinois at Chicago. It was developed as a way to support SNS/SHL instruction. NIESHL allowed developed programs to share core principles.
  • Kim Potowski, University of Illinois professor, was an integral part of the beginning stages of the development of NIESHL, providing support and access to a SNS/SHL list serve.
  • The network offered teachers the opportunity to learn more about methodology and programs. Typically heritage language teachers may lack the teaching experience to effectively work with this population; problems with management, curriculum design, assessment and integrating technology into the content were (and continue to be) a large part of group discussions.
  • NIESHL network effectively addressed the needs of SNS/SHL teachers and through word of mouth grew in popularity from a small group of 6-10 teachers to over 100 current members.
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