Date of Award

Winter 3-28-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.


College of Education



First Advisor

Barbara Weschke, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Maggie Broderick, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Teresa Dillard, Ph.D.


This qualitative study explored the influence of the heritage language on the cultural integration of 10 second-generation Hispanic adolescents, ages 15-19. Data were collected using in-depth interviews that asked participants to share their experiences with their heritage language, and in what situations they found themselves feeling more Hispanic, more American, and more bicultural, when speaking their heritage language. Participants also shared the formal course of language study they chose, such as Spanish, Heritage Spanish, and AP Spanish Language, why they chose it, and how that choice influenced their perceptions of the heritage language and their cultural integration. Berry’s (2005) Acculturation Theory was the conceptual framework used for the study. The factors influencing experiences with the heritage language and subsequent attitudes of cultural integration were as follows: changes to the participants’ heritage fluency after starting ELL and the range of parental responses to these changes; participants’ opportunities to use their bilingual skills to help others in school and at work; host and heritage peer perspectives of the heritage language, and the development of their heritage fluency and literacy through their language course selection. Acculturative attitudes of marginalization and assimilation developed when experiences with the heritage language were perceived as negative, and attitudes of cultural integration, or biculturalism, developed when experiences with the heritage language were perceived as positive.