Personal profile

Personal profile

I was born in Mar del Plata, Argentina and completed my undergraduate university education in Argentina. I received a Masters in English from the University of Cincinnati and a PhD in Linguistics from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. I have been a professor in SUNY-Albany and I came to the University of Illinois in 1999.

I am a Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and in the Department of Linguistics and I teach graduate and undergraduate courses in Spanish and in English. I was Head of the Department of Spanish, Italian & Portuguese from 2010-2013 and Head of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese from 2015-2016. In 2010 I founded the University Language Academy for Children, an after school and summer camp Spanish program for 4-16 year old children, which I directed until 2018.


PhD. McGill University, Montreal

Research Interests

Second language acquisition
heritage language acquisition

Professional Information

Grounded in linguistic theory and using psycholinguistic methodologies,my research explores the following theoretical issues:

  1. the linguistic nature of interlanguage and bilingual grammars
  2. the role of the “other” language in the acquisition or loss of a language
  3. the reasons why some L2 learners/bilinguals reach the level of proficiency and linguistic knowledge of native speakers while others fall short of that level even when optimal conditions for learning are provided,
  4. the linguistic selectivity of acquisition and loss, or why linguistic “success” or “failure” affects certain grammatical areas (vocabulary, sounds, meaning, verb endings, and discourse) but not others (sentence structure)
  5. the differences and similarities between linguistic processes attested in second language acquisition and bilingualism and other developmental processes typical of historicallanguage change and first language acquisition.

Honors & Awards

2024 L. Bloomfield Book Award from the Linguistics Society of America for "Native Speakers, Interrupted" (Cambridge University Press, 2022)

Marjorie Roberts Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences

University Scholar 2013


National Center for Supercomputer Applications (NCSA) Faculty Fellowship Program. Project Title: Analyzing and Visualizing Linguistic Variation in Monolingual and Bilingual Speakers. Montrul, S. (PI), David Durbin (co-PI), Scott Nicholson (NSCA collaborator). $24,977 for 1 year (AY 2021-2022).

National Institutes of Health, NICHD. NIH R03HD099491. Validating New Measures of Later Language Development with Spanish and English Monolinguals and Bilinguals. Montrul, S. (PI), Yan, X., Montag, J., Christianson, K. and Hadley, P. Amount: $142,614. Duration 24 months (2020-2022).

Social and Behavioral Sciences Research Initiative Small Grants Program, University of Illinois. Project Title:  Oral Language Development in School-age Dual Language Learners. Montrul, S. (PI), Montag, J., Christianson, K. and Hadley, P. Requested amount: $20,000 for 1 year (AY 2018-2019).

National Science Foundation, BCS, Perception, Action and Cognition. BCS-1431324      PI: Darren Tanner, co-PI: Silvina Montrul. Cognitive and Neurocognitive individual differences in native and non-native language processing. Amount  $391,376. Duration 36 months (2014-2018). 

National Science Foundation, Linguistics and International Programs. PI: Silvina Montrul, Co-PIs: Rakesh Bhatt and Roxana Girju. (Proposal No. BCS-0917593, ARRA). Research project title: Differential Object Marking in Spanish, Hindi and Romanian Heritage Speakers. Amount $303,444. Duration 36 months (2009-2012)


Spanish & Prtuguese

  • SPAN 252: Introduction to Hispanic Linguistics
  • SPAN 305: The structure of Spanish
  • SPAN 307: Bilingualism
  • SPAN/LING 588 Seminar in Second Language Acquisition


  • LING 489: Theoretical Foundations of Second Language Acquisition
  • LING 514: Research Design and Statistics
  • LING 529: Second Language Acquisition and Bilingualism
  • LING 560: Seminar in Bilingualism

Office Address

University of Illinois
Dept. of Linguistics, MC-168
707 South Mathews Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801

Office: 4120 Foreign Languages Bldg.

Office Phone


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