Scholars have advocated for critical approaches to language education (e.g., Del Valle, 2014; Leeman & Serafini, 2016), including those that promote the development of Critical Language Awareness, CLA (e.g., Alim, 2010; Leeman, 2018). The goal is to develop students’ critical knowledge of the cultural, political, and social dimensions of language. To this end, Del Valle (2014) suggests the inclusion of language-related content units taught in the first or shared language from the early stages of language learning. This proposal entails revising strong beliefs such as the use of the non-target language in the new language classroom. The purpose of our research is to investigate whether including language-related content in English (the shared language) in an elementary Spanish language course helped students develop CLA without hindering class performance. Additionally, we explored if providing this content increased learners’ investment in the language. Results revealed that incorporating the CLA units did not influence overall class performance. Qualitative analyses indicated that students connected the content with their own social experience, which led to greater investment in the language. Finally, the content contributed to developing students’ critical awareness of linguistic ideologies and their impact on the construction of inequality as well as in enabling social change.
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