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Joseph Casillas. Reseña de Lacorte, Manel. 2014. The Routledge Handbook of Hispanic Applied Linguistics. New York: Routledge. Infoling 2.43 (2017) <>

1. Summary

The Routledge Handbook of Hispanic Applied Linguistics provides a thorough vision of the field of Hispanic Applied Linguistics. Useful for advanced undergraduate students, graduate students, researchers and professionals, this volume covers the vast majority of areas related to Applied Linguistics with a focus on the Spanish speaking world. The handbook begins with the table of contents. Several pages are dedicated to acknowledgments by the editor, followed by a list of contributors, and a list of the editorial board members. The content of the volume, which opens with an introduction by the editor, is organized into five parts: Perspectives on learning Spanish (5 chapters), Issues and environments in Spanish teaching (11 chapters), Spanish in the professions (9 chapters), The discourses of Spanish (6 chapters), and Social and Political contexts for Spanish (5 chapters). Each of the 36 chapters follow a common outline. First, the author provides an introduction to the overarching theme of the chapter. The next section, Historical Perspectives, offers the reader a brief review of the area. In Core issues and topics the authors dig into the principle topics that currently drive research in the given area. Each chapter concludes with a Looking into the future section followed by some concluding ideas, a list of related topics, suggestions for further reading, footnotes (if applicable), and the list of references used in the chapter. The handbook ends with brief biographies of all contributing authors and an index of keywords.

1.1 Part I: Perspectives on Learning Spanish

Part 1 provides an overview on Perspectives on learning Spanish, which begins with the chapter Sociocultural perspectives by Marta Antón. This chapter delves into the fruitful research that has taken place through the lens of Sociocultural Theory (SCT) over the past two decades. Antón mainly focuses the discussion on mediation, in its various forms, and internalization. Her chapter demonstrates the many ways in which current resesarch grounded in SCT has helped to shift the focus from acquisition of grammar to other areas of Hispanic Applied Linguistics that have not received the same attention, such as gestures and concept formation.

Félix-Brasdefer and Koike follow in Chapter 2, Perspectives on Spanish SLA from Pragmatics and Discourse. The authors explain how socio-cognitive approaches to SLA are particularly beneficial in researching pragmatics and discourse analysis. After providing a thorough historical overview, the authors dedicate a significant portion of the chapter to the fundamental theoretical concepts that encompass pragmatics and discourse, and their relevance vis-à-vis the principle issues in this area, for example in L2 speech act research and the study of L2 discourse in the study abroad environment.

In Chapter 3, Cognitive Approaches to Spanish SLA, Cristina Sanz describes how this perspective developed independently in the U.S. and Europe until the 1980’s. She then gives a detailed account of how certain ‘problem areas’ evolved over the course of the development of this area. Sanz highlights how innovative research related to pedagogy, task-based teaching, processing instruction, and study abroad is used to address the fundamental issues of SLA research, such as understanding the nature of L2 knowledge and explaining individual differences related to ultimate attainment.

Chapter 4, Generative Perspectives, by Juana M. Liceras, begins with a depiction of the early stages of the Chomskyian revolution. Liceras lays out the core tenets behind the notion of Universal Grammar (UG), and then focuses on how the concept of multiple interfaces and modularity have taken the generative approach to Hispanic Applied Linguistics beyond UG, particularly regarding the role of the L1 in interlanguage grammar and the role of input as related to positive, negative, and indirect negative evidence.

The final chapter of Part I, Sociolinguistic Perspectives, is authored by Andrew Lynch. Lynch offers a historical account for how the sociolinguistic perspective developed and separated itself from the more cognitivist approaches that resulted from the common Saussurean thinking of the time. Lynch highlights four areas, linguistic variability, context of acquisition, social interaction, and learner agency and identity, in which the majority of sociolinguistic research has focused. Lynch concludes that research in the four core areas has aided in narrowing the gap between historically ‘external’ and ‘internal’ factors, and hypothesizes that out notions about society will progress as research further focuses on cyberspace as a core area for learning.

1.2 Part II: Issues and Environments in Spanish Teaching

Part II, Issues and Environments in Spanish Teaching, commences with Chapter 6, Methodological Approaches and Realities, by the volumes’ editor, Manel Lacorte. The chapter includes an impressive historical overview that spans 4 centuries. The author, backed by data obtained from the Instituto Cervantes, contends that teaching Spanish as a foreign language remains a promising endeavor. Lacorte affirms that methodology has avoided becoming tied down by any single theory or model, and, as a result, it is possible for teaching and research professionals to take a more eclectic approach, picking and choosing pedagogical principles and curricular frameworks based on their needs and those of their students. Lacorte concludes by emphasizing the importance of continual reflection and adaptation when considering methodological approaches.

Pastor Cesteros and Lacorte follow in Chapter 7, Teacher Education. The historical perspective covers L2 teacher education (LTE) in Europe and the United States. The main issues cover pre-service preparation (i.e. practicum or student teaching), competencies and standards, in-service teacher education (i.e. continued professional development), and specialized training for professionals. Some highlights regarding future research include language teacher cognition, which details the need for ‘reflective activities and practice’ as it pertains to cognition and behavior in the classroom, as well as critical language teacher education, which incorporates ideologies, politics, and social hierarchies in pedagogical practices with the goal of achieving social change.

Chapter 8, entitled Spanish as a Heritage Language, was written by Marta Fairclough. Fairclough’s historical overview focuses on terminology, which can be a source of confusion in this area, and demographic data. The core issues covered in the chapter focus on external factors (ideologies, policies, and institutional support, among others), internal factors (identity, attitudes, motivation and integration), as well as educational initiatives. Fairclough highlights the fact that heritage language education as a field does not have a unifying theory to guide teachers and researchers. Moreover, research up to this point has been mainly sociolinguistic or psycholinguistic in nature. Fairclough concludes suggesting future research should look to integrate components of both approaches.

The next chapter, by Lord and Isabelli-García, is Program Articulation and Management. The historical perspective is centered around language program design from the second half of the 20th century moving forward. The authors include an insightful review of study abroad as well. The core issues touched upon in this chapter include the changing landscape of language programs, curricular changes, the integration of culture, translingual/transcultural competence, and the role of study abroad. Another highlight of this chapter is the section regarding the role of technology moving forward, which the authors view as a supplement to current practices that ought to be implemented insomuch that it can add to teaching and learning experiences.

Chapter 10, Service-Learning/Aprendizaje-servicio as a Global Practice in Spanish, examines service-learning in the U.S., Latin America, and Spain. The author, Lisa Rabin, provides a historical overview for each of the three regions. The core issues related to service-learning are also detailed in sections dedicated to each geographical region. The author makes special emphasis regarding how service-learning can be framed in the global commons (see Linebaugh, 2009) to guide those with interest in this area.

Content-Based Programs and Spanish for the Professions, by Carol Klee, focuses on the pedagogical models that have developed as a direct result of the increasing number of students who study Spanish with the primary purpose of using it in a professional career. The history of this area is divided into four sections that focus on immersion at the primary level, languages across the curriculum programs, content and language integrated learning, and Spanish for the professions. Some of the noteworthy issues related to this topic revolve around maintaining a balance between content instruction and language instruction, and the preparation of the professionals who teach courses of this nature.

Kimberly Nance continues in Chapter 12 with Hispanic Literature and Cultures Throughout the Curriculum. This chapter deals with literature courses and how they can influence intellectual, social, and ethical development in students. Nance points out that L2 students often have negative attitudes towards literature, which are often rooted in their experiences with literature in their L1. Moreover, it is commonplace that only a small number of students participate actively in class, and research suggests “a lack of benefit from literary spectatorship” (p. 215). Thus Nance proposes that moving forward literature could be limited to upper-level courses designated for the best students, or courses could be redesigned in a way that makes them more accessible to all students.

Toward Online and Hybrid Courses is the next chapter. The authors, Idoia Elola and Ana Oskoz, review how web 1.0, 2.0 and now 3.0 technologies have worked their way into the classroom. Given how relatively new these technologies are, Elosa and Oskoz begin their review from the late 90’s. This chapter highlights some of the ways in which technology has been successfully incorporated into the face-to-face classroom. In the same vein as Lord and Isabelli-García (chapter 9), the authors note that novel tools are meant to complement (as opposed to supplement) the curriculum. Finally, Elola and Oskoz point out that as online and hybrid courses become even more commonplace, we can expect to see increased focus on the development of listening and speaking skills in classes of this format.

Chapter 14, Emerging Technological Contexts for Teaching Spanish, by Julie Sykes, complements the previous chapter, but shifts the focus to digital contexts. Specifically, Sykes underscores the roles of emerging technologies, such as digital games and mobile technology, in the L2 Spanish classroom.

Bordón and Liskin-Gasparro follow with The Assessment and Evaluation of Spanish. The chapter provides a thorough depiction of the development of assessment and evaluation strategies, starting in the 1950’s, through to the establishment of the Instituto Cervantes (and the DELE), the ACTFL standards (and the OPI), on to the publication of the CEFR in 2001. Of special note is the section Technology and Language Testing, which briefly touches on the use of online testing advances, such as the OPIc.

Part II concludes with the chapter Critical Approaches to Teaching Spanish as a Local/Foreign Language by Jennifer Leeman. Leeman highlights early influences in critical approaches, such as work by Paulo Fiere in L1 literacy and the antipositivist philosophers and sociologists of the Frankfurt School, and continues on to more recent advances in the teaching of second languages by scholars such as Pennycook. The chapter focuses on the teaching of Spanish in the United States and examines core issues related to Spanish as a local language, ideologies of Spanish as a foreign language, Spanish as a heritage language, and standard language ideologies, to name just a few. Leeman concludes by suggesting that Spanish as a foreign language ought to be reconceptualized with the purpose of changing hegemonic ideologies.

1.3 Part III: Spanish in the Professions

Spanish in the Professions commences with Chapter 17, Translation, by Miguel Jiménez Crespo. Jiménez Crespo begins the historical overview with ancient translations of Sumerian text from 13th century BC and arrives at the relatively new field of Translation Studies (TS). Despite the extensive history of translation, one of the core issues surrounding TS continues to be defining what translation is. Other noteworthy topics include the relationship between TS and other fields, such as linguistics, and the use of corpora. Jiménez Crespo concludes highlighting the positive future for the field of TS as it continues to solidify its status as a “consolidated interdiscipline with its own paradigms, theories, models, and research methodologies” (p. 307).

Following up Translation, Luis Cerezo describes the role of the “second oldest profession in the world” (p. 313) as it pertains to Hispanic Applied Linguistics. Chapter 18, entitled Interpreting, deals with core issues related to conference, community, and media interpreting. Cerezo highlights interesting research centered around cognitive processing and hypothesizes that increased interest in this field in the U.S. could result in more even growth in Spanish speaking countries outside of Spain.

Chapter 19, Spanish Lexicography, by Aquilino Sánchez and Moisés Almela, highlights new insights seen in this area after the coined “lexical turn”. Some of the core issues considered by the authors include entry selection, which deals with locating sources and managing them in an efficient manner, and the prescriptive vs. descriptive dichotomy. Sánchez and Almela predict that in the future dictionaries will tend to be of the descriptive variety, mainly due to emerging technologies, such as e-lexicography.

Chapter 20, by Martí and Taulé, deals with the rise of computational linguistics since the 1940’s. In this chapter, entitled Computational Hispanic Linguistics, the authors explain how this growing field arose as a consequence of advances in Information Theory and the advent of the computer. Since its inception, Hispanic Corpus Linguistics, as a field, has contributed to all of the major areas of linguistics. The authors provides examples related to phonetics/phonology, morphology, syntax, and pragmatics. Moving forward, practitioners in this field will be tasked with creating more readily available tools/resources in Spanish in order to foment research in and on Spanish.

In Chapter 21, Hispanic Corpus Linguistics, Guillermo Rojo presents the development of this growing field over the past 60 years. With the advent of computers, important advances have been made in core areas related to corpus size, text, encoding, and parsing/tagging. Future concerns deal with size and cost of corpora. Further advances will provide more insight regarding Spanish and how it changes over time.

Ernesto Martín Peris and Jorge Cubillos author Chapter 22, Publishing. This chapter focuses on texts, in both physical and digital format, used for the teaching of Spanish as a second language. Martín Peris and Cubillos review texts in both Spain and the United States. The authors’ review of the core issues covers a plethora of topics, such as corporate investment priorities, costs, and the evolving roles of language practitioners and students, to name just a few.

The chapter Forensic Spanish, by Susan Berk-Seligson, covers the innovative uses of language as it pertains to law. Berk-Seligson focuses on interpreting for a large portion of the chapter, but also includes sections regarding the use of Spanish in the judicial process, as well as immigration and family court. The author underscores the need for more research in this growing field, which started in the 90’s, and the need to expand to include minority languages.

In Chapter 24, Spanish in the Health Professions, Glenn Martínez touches on how applied linguistic research can be used to fight against language barriers and health disparities. Some of the fundamental issues dealt with in this chapter are related to language access. Martínez calls attention to the correlation that exists between one’s language and the type of health care they receive. This chapter also explores medical interpreting and the (dual) role it has played, and will play, with regard to access.

In the final chapter of Part III, Special Educators and Spanish, Roberta Lavine and Christine Goode review the teaching of students with physical or learning disabilities in the United States. Importantly, as the authors point out, the information provided in the chapter is applicable to other Spanish-speaking countries. Lavine and Goode cover many core issues, such as teacher preparation, assessment, and institutional practices, among others.

1.4 Part IV: The Discourses of Spanish

Part IV, The Discourses of Spanish, begins with Chapter 26, Academic and Professional Discourse, by Adriana Bolívar and Giovanni Parodi. While the focus of this chapter is on discourse in Spanish, Bolívar and Parodi also provide a substantial deal of information regarding English for Specific Purposes. The authors focus their attention on work being carried out in Latin America and Spain in not only linguistics, but also other fields, such as psychology, law, and philosophy, among others.

In Chapter 27, Discourse in Institutions, Isolda Carranza overviews the history and prevailing research in Discourse Analysis (DA) as it relates to different institutions. Thus her chapter covers DA not only in educational institutions, but also in health care, administrative and judicial institutions as well.

Chapter 28, by Irene Fonte, covers media discourse. Though the main focus is on DA in the press, her chapter –also titled Media Discourse– presents the core issues and relevant research regarding DA in radio, television, and even telenovelas. Pressing issues, such as racism and violence are considered, along with digital media, such as blogs.

Chapter 29, Commerical Discourse, by Carmen López Ferrero and Cristian González Arias, sketches out the communicative practices that take place in the commercial setting. The authors propose that there are two principle objectives in this field, which, on one hand, can be economically driven or, on the other hand, can serve purely communicative purposes. The future of commercial discourse appears to be promising, especially in the practices related to creating new ways of oral and written interactions. As López Ferrero and González Arias point out, growth in this area has led to the creation of a new commercial role, i.e. the community manager.

Sandra López-Rocha and Elisabeth Arévalo-Guerrero author Chapter 30, Intercultural Communication Discourse. As explained by the authors, intercultural communication is an interdisciplinary field enriched by insights from anthropology, linguistics, social psychology, business studies, sociology, communication, education and translation studies. The chapter tackles core issues related to sociocultural context (e.g. identity, inequality/discrimination) and interculutral communicative competence, training and education. The authors foresee extensive growth in the field, both generally and in the Hispanic context.

In Chapter 31, Elvira de Arnoux and Juan Bonnin close Part IV of the volume with their contribution on Politics and Discourse. The authors explore a range of topics, including debates and campaigns, media, and poverty, to name just a few. The authors conclude emphasizing the importance of DA as it relates to politics moving forward.

1.5 Part V: Social and Political Contexts for Spanish

The final part of the five-part volume is Social and Political Contexts for Spanish. It begins with Chapter 32, The Politics of Spanish in the World, by Laura Villa and José del Valle. The authors center their attention on policies and institutions that have contributed to the increased use of Spanish as a global language since the turn of the century. Some of the core issues covered include pan-Hispanic policy set forth by the RAE and ASALE project, the role of the Instituto Cervantes, and other economic and political interests. The chapter concludes with the authors assessment of the future of Spanish as a global language, which, in their view, will continue to involve ‘moderate’ prescriptivist policy.

Chapter 33, Language Policy and Planning: Spanish in the US, is authored by Reynaldo Macías. This chapter reviews Spanish in the U.S., but begins with a succinct overview of the history of languages in this land, covering indigenous languages during the pre-colonial period, up to the present status of Spanish. The core issues include the case for Spanish as an official language, language policy related acquisition and revitalization, and also the controversial English Only movement.

Following the chapter on language policy in the US, Juan Godenzzi and Inge Sichra continue the analysis with their chapter Language Policy and Planning: Latin America. This chapter commences with a historical overview that covers colonial ideology and then moves on to consider bilingual education. Some exciting core issues discussed are related to bilingual education, prejudice and Latin American Spanish (as opposed to the Peninsular variety), development of indigenous languages and indigenous agency. The authors cover a wide range of pressing issues and emphasize the need for social movement moving forward.

The penultimate chapter, Spanish Language and Migrations, deals with the consequences of Hispanic migration. The author, Francisco Moreno-Fernández, overviews work in this area that is related to society, the individual and his/her place in the new communicative environment, and the impact migration can have on the language. For example, in discussing how migration affects Spanish, Moreno-Fernández describes an all-encompassing, Pan-Hispanic perspective that emphasizes the importance and validity of all Spanish varieties and speakers. According to the author, future work in this area will require careful consideration for language standards and notions of ‘correctness’ and ‘acceptability’.

The final chapter of the volume is Spanish and Hispanic Bilingualism by Ofelia García and Ricardo Otheguy. The authors look at bilingualism through a variety of approaches, providing critiques to what they describe as current monoglossic ideologies that have been commonplace. The chapter considers what Spanish bilingualism is and is not, and who Spanish speakers are, as well as many fundamental areas related to bilingualism that have been the object of research (for example language maintenance and shift and bilingual education). The authors affirm that the future of Spanish and its sustainability will be determined in part by how adaptable it is in light of the language practices of the ever changing Hispanic population.

2. Evaluation

The goal of the The Routledge Handbook of Hispanic Applied Linguistics is to inform a wide audience on the current state of the art in Hispanic Applied Linguistics. This is an ambitious goal given the breadth and the fractured state of the field, but the volume is successful in its attempt and presents the reader with a thorough view of current research. In the words of the editor, the thirty-six chapter volume sets out to “[...] provide a wide-ranging presentation of the field at present” (p. 4) and I believe that this goal is achieved. The handbook certainly fills a gap in the library of any researcher that focuses on Spanish. In the final paragraphs of this review, I will highlight some of the merits that are particularly worth mentioning, along with a few of what I believe are the books shortcomings.

The organization of the handbook is one of the strong points. The thoughtful division into 5 parts provides the reader with a wide understanding of the areas presented. I was particularly pleased with the uniformity of the chapters, as I found it useful to begin with a short historical overview that lead directly into the core issues of each area. This can be rather difficult to achieve in a volume of this magnitude with a large number of authors, but I was left with the feeling that each chapter seemed to pick up where the previous one had left off.

It should not be left unsaid that the volume also touts a long list of highly respected researchers. The expertise and analyses provided make the handbook useful to researchers and professionals while still being accessible to advanced undergraduate students and graduate students alike.

With regard to what I consider the shortcomings of the handbook, I will first point out the lack of a chapter dedicated to study abroad. Though it was touched on in several chapters, I believe the current interest and the sheer amount of research being conducted in this context are enough to warrant a dedicated chapter. I also would have appreciated the inclusion of research regarding second language acquisition in different types of immersion contexts.

Though the volume is extensive –700 pages cover-to-cover– it is also worth mentioning that it is rather costly. This shortcoming is not a deal-breaker for students, as the handbook can be rented at a fair price, but most will have to wait if they want to include the volume in their personal library. Finally, I find it to be unfortunate that a handbook of this breadth dedicated to Spanish, Spanish-speakers, and the Spanish-speaking world is currently only available in English. I was unable to determine if there will be a Spanish version in the future.

In sum, The Handbook of Hispanic Applied Linguistics is extensive and accessible. The organization and academic quality make it a formidable addition to the collection of both applied linguists and professionals that use Spanish.


Linebaugh, P. (2009). The magna carta manifesto: Liberties and commons for all. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Reseñas: desde 2010