There is an increased need for bilingual education programs throughout the U.S. as a result of the increasing bilingual population, especially Spanish-English bilinguals. With the implementation of such programs there also exists the need to be aware of issues that affect bilinguals and their language learning experience. One of these issues that has been investigated among foreign language learners, but less among bilinguals, is the issue of language anxiety. This case study reports the findings gathered from classroom observations, a language survey, focus group interviews and teacher interviews in order to better understand the issue of language anxiety among heritage language learners on the border. The information gathered from student and teacher participants at a high school in South Texas describes students' language background and attitudes toward language learning as well as teachers' background, beliefs about language teaching. Results include responses from both students and teachers in reference to what creates language anxiety and what can be done in the classroom to mitigate its effects. Results indicate that language anxiety is not the issue of greatest concern, although some lower proficient bilinguals experience it. Rather, it was found that poor classroom management has the ability to affect nearly every other aspect of a language class, directly affecting language expectations, language use, classroom routine, attitudes, and even the level of language anxiety. Due to poor classroom management, a very low expectation has been set for these students and as a result, there is also a low percentage of students who experience language anxiety. Recommendations for improving bilingual language classes come from students' comments during focus group interviews.



College and Department

Humanities; Spanish and Portuguese



Date Submitted


Document Type





bilingual education, bilingualism, classroom management, heritage language, heritage students, language anxiety, low expectations, secondary schools, South Texas, Spanish, Spanish for Native Speakers