Skip to main content


Discoveries on Heritage Language speakers

Research Achievements

Discoveries on Heritage Language speakers

Project members, led by 4th year student Sunyoung Lee-Ellis, made important discoveries on the language of Heritage Language speakers. These speakers, often found in immigrant communities, are of great interest because their initial/native language is different from their primary language as adults. This allows researchers to tease apart the contributions to successful learning of the amount and the timing of language experience. Working with 3rd year student Shannon Hoerner and a number of faculty collaborators, Lee-Ellis found dissociations between language domains where early experience is critical and domains where the quantity of experience is most critical. Her most striking finding is that Korean Heritage speakers, whose first language was Korean and who continue to use Korean in family settings on a daily basis, but who use English more frequently, show the same limitations in perceiving Korean speech sounds as monolingual English speakers who know no Korean at all.