Supporting Heritage Language Acquisition When it Matters Most

  • DATE

    12 April 2022

  • TIME

    6:00 pm to 7:00 pm



Instituto Cervantes presents the lecture “Supporting Heritage Language Acquisition When it Matters Most”, by Professor Silvina Montrul, in “Bilingualism series. 2022”.

Bilingual speakers of heritage languages are often dominant in the majority language. Their heritage language exhibits systematic grammatical differences compared to baseline speakers. Many of the apparent grammatical differences found in young adult heritage speakers can be traced back to protracted development in childhood. Two important factors that can be observed with school-age heritage language children are the roles of parental input in heritage language development and of academic support of the heritage language. The emerging conclusions from recent studies are that 1) there is little relationship between the language of the parents and the patterns that emerge in the heritage language children, and 2) academic support of the heritage language during the entire school-age period is critical to maintain and develop the language to achieve fluent bilingualism.

Silvina Montrul is a Professor in the Departments of Spanish and Portuguese and of Linguistics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and directs the Second Language Acquisition and Bilingualism Lab. She is co-editor of the journal Second Language Research and has authored several books, including The Acquisition of Spanish (John Benjamins, 2004), Incomplete Acquisition in Bilingualism (John Benjamins, 2008), El bilingüismo en el mundo hispanohablante (Wiley, 2013), The Acquisition of Heritage Languages (Cambridge University Press, 2016), Native Speakers Interrupted, (in press, Cambridge University Press). Her most recent co-edited volume (with Maria Polinsky) is the Cambridge Handbook of Heritage Languages and Linguistics (Cambridge University press, 2021). Her research has been funded by the University of Illinois, the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.