The rising population of heritage speakers (HS) in university courses in the US has increased the need for instructors who understand the linguistic, social, and cultural profiles of their students. Recent research has discussed the need for specialized courses and their differentiation from second-language (L2) classes, as well as the intersection between HS and language attitudes. However, prior studies have not examined HS students’ language attitudes toward the sociolinguistic background of the instructors and their effect on classroom interactions. Therefore, this study explores HS students’ overall language attitudes and perceptions of their instructors’ sociolinguistic background. In a survey, HS university students (N
= 92) across the US assessed four instructor profiles along five dimensions. Results showed that students rated more favorably instructors born and raised in Latin America, followed by those from Spain. Furthermore, HS favored these two profiles over HS or L2 profiles as their course instructors. However, preferences were less marked in the online context. These findings demonstrate that to design supportive learning spaces with—rather than for—HS students, programs must first acknowledge how classroom dynamics are shaped by the perspectives brought into the learning space and by the context of the learning space itself.
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