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Research program on Heritage Language Speakers

Trainee Achievements

Research program on Heritage Language Speakers

Sunyoung Lee-Ellis is an IGERT student from the Second Language Acquisition program who has worked across departments to develop an innovative research program on Heritage Language Speakers. These are speakers whose first language (typically the language of their immigrant parents) is no longer their dominant language. This group provides a valuable natural laboratory for distinguishing the roles of early experience vs. amount of experience in language learning, factors that are typically confounded. Results from cross-language speech perception studies challenge the common view that early experience is paramount. Some perceptual abilities are most dependent on early experience in a language, whereas others are more dependent on the amount of experience in a language.