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El Círculo Juvenil de Cultura supports the maintenance and development of Spanish as a heritage language and cultural literacy for children of Latino families in the Pittsburgh community. The program provides a space where families and children can develop social networks with other Latino families in the community.
Other goals are the following:
- Create a service learning opportunity for Spanish heritage- and native-language undergraduate and graduate students at CMU, and for local Spanish-speaking teachers and artists
- Establish a community network of parents, students, educators, and other community members and service providers, businesses, and educational institutions
- Create a laboratory for research on heritage language and culture development in the United States — There is a dearth of good heritage language and culture educational materials and professional development opportunities.
El Círculo promotes heritage language and culture development by creating an environment in which bilingual children can explore and maintain their identities and cultures. The program aims to strengthen students’ awareness of the relationship between the arts and society through music, poetry, stories, songs, theater, art, and dances. Through interaction with Spanish-speaking professional teacher-facilitators and college students, children are encouraged to develop and be proud of their heritage language and cultures and appreciate the social and cultural value of being bilingual-bicultural citizens of their new country, the United States.