Research on the Acquisition of Spanish as a Heritage Language

Thursday, November 9, 2023
4 P.M.
Bond Hall 417 and Zoom

A virtual talk by Western alum Dr. Elizabeth Goodin-Mayeda


Heritage speakers of a language can be broadly described as those who grow up speaking and/or hearing a minority language at home in a context in which a different language is the language of society, i.e., the majority language. Many studies involving heritage language speakers focus on morphosyntactic properties, and many of these find competence differences in the minority language between heritage speakers and their monolingual peers.  This growing body of research has informed new teaching methodologies and assessment tools geared specifically to heritage learners of a language, who have different competencies than second-language learners and therefore distinct needs in the classroom.  It is commonly assumed that heritage speakers’ phonological competence is the most native-like aspect of their linguistic knowledge; however, recent studies have found differences in this domain as well. This talk will focus on three main topics: (1) defining and characterizing heritage language speakers; (2) research on the acquisition of phonology by speakers of Spanish as a heritage language, including a study on the production of the Spanish tap [ɾ] and trill [r] (as in carro ‘car’ vs. caro ‘expensive’); and (3) issues in heritage language pedagogy.

Dr. Elizabeth Goodin-Mayeda

C. Elizabeth Goodin-Mayeda is an Associate Professor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Hispanic Studies at the University of Houston. She specializes in Spanish phonetics and phonology, particularly as it relates to bilingualism, language acquisition, and speech perception. Her most recent research project involves the acquisition and retention of Spanish phonology by speakers of Spanish as a heritage language.

Dr. Goodin-Mayeda's Education

  • Ph.D. Hispanic Languages and Literature - University of California, Los Angeles (2009)
  • M.A. Spanish - University of California, Los Angeles (2005)
  • B.A. Spanish and Linguistics - Western Washington University (2001)