Spanish monolingual speakers often produce recipient (Pedro le da un lápiz a Mariá) and nonrecipient constructions (Antonio le lava la camiseta a Carmen) doubled by a dative clitic. Second language speakers and heritage speakers usually avoid clitics. This study examined whether structural priming could effectively increase the production of clitics in monolingual speakers (N = 23), L2 speakers (N = 28), and heritage speakers (N = 24). Participants completed a baseline study that measured the use of clitics in a picture description task, followed by a priming treatment, an immediate posttest, and a posttest a week later. Results showed that priming increased clitic production for all groups, and that the increase was still significant a week later in L2 speakers and heritage speakers. These findings support the view that structural priming may implicate implicit language learning and considers its pedagogical implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)729-752
Number of pages24
JournalStudies in Second Language Acquisition
Issue number4
Early online dateMar 15 2021
StatePublished - Sep 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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