My research examines authentic materials for language learning, which are materials created for real-life purposes rather than classroom use. Examples include advertisements, music, or memes in the target language. Authentic materials are now standard components of language curricula and are considered best practices since they expose students to more "authentic" language. However, the learning objectives associated with authentic materials are purely proficiency-based and the materials are assumed to be inherently free of bias or stereotype. I argue that language courses must go beyond proficiency in order to critically analyze the materials while unpacking (racio)linguistic ideologies depicted in authentic resources. Further, in order for instruction to be relevant and meaningful, students must draw connections between the classroom materials and their daily lives and identities. Therefore, in my classroom research I use both quantitative and qualitative methods to develop critical and locally-based approaches to Spanish instruction using authentic materials.


Venegas, M., & Leonard, W.Y. (In press). "Engaging Indigenous Language Learning through Relational Accountability: A Commentary on 'Undoing Competence: Coloniality, Homogeneity, and the Overrepresentation of Whiteness in Applied Linguistics.'" Language Learning.

Current projects

LatCrit Sociocultural Linguistics Lab (LCSLL): As part of the $2.9 million grant awarded to Dr. Claudia Holguín Mendoza and Dr. Alfonso Gonzales Toribio at UCR, I participate in the "Inclusive Pedagogies for Critical Sociocultural Linguistic Literacy" team which involves dismantling the systemic racism embedded in curricula and and testing policies.

Bilingual Native Perception Study: I am a research assistant with PIs Claudia Holguín Mendoza and Eve Higby involving a mixed-methods study that investigates bilingual speakers' sociolinguistic attitudes to uncover speakers' awareness of different categories of stigmatization of the Southern California variety of Spanish.

Classroom Materials for d/Deaf Students in the Border of Mexico and US: I am part of the research team involved in the creation of classroom materials using critical pedagogies for d/Deaf students at the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California in Mexicali, Mexico. This project is funded by the UC-Mexus-CONACYT Collaborative Grant awarded to Dr. Claudia Holguín Mendoza and Dr. María Angélica Castro Caballero.

Recent research presentations

“California Spanish as ‘Non-Existent’: Verbal Hygiene and Erasure Ideologies within the Latinx Community.” with Claudia Holguín Mendoza, Eve Higby, Lara Boyero Agudo, Zaira Vidal Cortes. 3rd International Symposium on Language Attitudes towards Portuguese, Spanish, and Related Languages

Workshop: "El lenguaje inclusivo: Critical Sociocultural Linguistic Literacy as a Means of Dismantling Language Hierarchies in the Spanish Language Classroom" with Lara Boyero and Cristina Sanchez. UCR Hispanic Studies Graduate Student Conference

"Authentic Materials for Language Learning: A Critical Antiracist Approach," UCR Center for Ideas and Society Faculty Commons Graduate Student Research Conference

"Perceptions of English Borrowings and Stigmatized Phrases among Heritage Speakers of Spanish" with Eve Higby, Claudia Holguín Mendoza, Lara Boyero, and Zaira Vidal, Thirteenth Heritage Language Virtual Research Institute

"Categories of Stigmatization: Style, Awareness, and Agency among Speakers of Spanish as a Heritage Language" with Claudia Holguín Mendoza, Eve Higby, Lara Boyero, and Zaira Vidal, 8th National Symposium on Spanish as a Heritage Language