This chapter considers how heritage language speakers, bilinguals exposed to their L1 since birth either exclusively or simultaneously with the majority language, shed new light on the role of age in language acquisition. Investigating the ultimate attainment of bilinguals with early and late exposure to their L1 and L2 helps disentangle how the roles of previous linguistic knowledge and of quantity and quality of input interact with age of onset of bilingualism. Comparing the linguistic and processing abilities of heritage speakers and L2 learners allows us to understand how the timing of input interacts with situational factors and elucidates the developmental schedule of different modules of the grammar. Early exposure is critical for aspects of phonology, syntax, and morphology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGenerative SLA in the Age of Minimalism. Features, interfaces, and beyond. Selected proceedings of the 15th Generative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition Conference
EditorsTania Leal, Elena Shimanskaya, Casilde A. Isabelli
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9789027257567
StatePublished - 2022

Publication series

NameLanguage Acquisition and Language Disorders
ISSN (Print)0925-0123


  • age effects
  • heritage language acquisition
  • morphology
  • phonology
  • processing
  • second language acquisition
  • simultaneous bilingualism
  • syntax

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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