Gender agreement in adult second language learners and Spanish heritage speakers: The effects of age and context of acquisition

Silvina Montrul, Rebecca Foote, Silvia Perpiñán

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This study investigates knowledge of gender agreement in Spanish L2 learners and heritage speakers, who differ in age and context/mode of acquisition. On some current theoretical accounts, persistent difficulty with grammatical gender in adult L2 acquisition is due to age. These accounts predict that heritage speakers should be more accurate on gender agreement than L2 learners, because their Spanish language acquisition started in infancy. Sixty-nine heritage speakers, 72 second language (L2) learners, and 22 native Spanish speakers were tested on their oral production, written comprehension, and written recognition of Spanish gender agreement. Results showed advantages for L2 learners in written tasks but advantages for heritage speakers in the oral task. We discuss the significance of these findings for SLA and heritage language acquisition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)503-553
Number of pages51
JournalLanguage Learning
Volume58
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2008

Keywords

  • Comprehension
  • Critical Period Hypothesis
  • Grammatical competence
  • Heritage speakers
  • Incomplete acquisition
  • L2 acquisition
  • Production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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