LINGUIST List 33.2274

Thu Jul 14 2022

FYI: Supporting Heritage Language Acquisition When it Matters Most

Editor for this issue: Everett Green <>

Date: 08-Jul-2022
From: Maria J Arche <>
Subject: Supporting Heritage Language Acquisition When it Matters Most
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Closing Plenary to the International Summer School in Multilingualism, University of Greenwich, Southampton and PennState
Open Lecture: Professor Silvina Montrul, University of Illinois
Friday 15 July 2022, 4PM BST
Join Zoom Meeting here:

Title: Supporting Heritage Language Acquisition When it Matters Most

Heritage language acquisition is concerned with the developmental stages and outcome of learning a minority language as a first but secondary language in a bilingual context from childhood to adulthood, as well as the wax and wane of the heritage language in response to input factors. Most studies of heritage languages focus on adults, who are unbalanced bilinguals with stronger command of the majority language than of the heritage language, because the heritage language exhibits systematic differences in vocabulary, morphological knowledge and in certain discourse-pragmatic interfaces compared to baseline speakers. In this talk, I focus on recent studies of Spanish and other languages in school-age heritage speakers, because it is during late childhood and adolescence that input decreases substantially with effects in the still developing linguistic system. I will show that 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 this age group 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.

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics; General Linguistics; Language Acquisition; Morphology; Phonology; Psycholinguistics; Semantics; Sociolinguistics; Syntax

Page Updated: 14-Jul-2022