The sociopolitical status of the two languages (primary and secondary languages) plays a fundamental role in language use, degree of acquisition, and eventual linguistic dominance. This chapter discusses recent research within formal linguistic and psycholinguistic approaches to bilingualism, and discusses how the study of heritage language speakers and learners contributes to both theoretical debates about the nature of language and language learning, bilingual acquisition, representation, and use in bilingualism and pedagogical interventions. Since many heritage speakers do not typically reach full linguistic competence in their heritage language, many college-age heritage speakers want to acquire, reacquire, or expand their knowledge of the heritage language in a classroom setting. Linguistic and psycholinguistic studies of heritage speakers focus on describing the grammatical system of bilingual grammars and on identifying potential gaps in linguistic knowledge and processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Handbook of Bilingualism and Multilingualism
Subtitle of host publicationSecond Edition
Place of PublicationMalden
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)9781444334906
StatePublished - 2013


  • Bilingualism
  • Heritage language grammar
  • Heritage language speaker
  • Language acquisition research
  • Linguistic competence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Arts and Humanities(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Bilingualism and the Heritage Language Speaker'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this