Doctoral Dissertation Research: The effects of experience and attitudes on heritage bilinguals' language processing

Project: Research project

Project Details


Variation in language experiences affects bilinguals’ perceptual abilities. This includes the language exposure they received in their early years (Flege, MacKay, & Meador, 1999), as well as throughout their lives (Tiv, Gullifer, Feng, & Titone, 2020). Heritage language bilinguals offer a unique insight into this individual variation as they exhibit significant variation in both experiences and attitudes. Heritage language bilinguals speak as a first language a minority language that they have cultural ties to (e.g., Spanish in the U.S.), but, because of societal reasons, have become dominant in the majority language (e.g., English in the U.S.; Montrul, 2016). Although they are mainly exposed to their heritage language in their early lives, once they begin school, there is a shift to more majority language input and interactions, leading to a switch in dominance (Montrul, 2010). Like many bilinguals, heritage speakers code-switch (i.e., use both of their languages in one sentence or conversation; Poplack, 1980), and there is variation in code switching practices based on experience and attitudes (Toribio, 2011). This project explores how the variation in language experiences and attitudes that Spanish heritage speakers in the United States affect their speech perception in both Spanish and English. Two preregistered, well-powered studies will examine these issues. Study 1 focuses on better understanding how heritage speakers’ experience and attitudes with Spanish and English affects their speech perception when they interact with stigmatized talkers (labeled by the experimenter as a non-native vs. native talkers) in each of their languages. Study 2 investigates how heritage speaker’ experiences and attitudes impacts perception of a stigmatized way of speaking (code-switched vs. single language speech).The results of these studies should show that bilinguals with more experience and better attitudes towards stigmatized talkers and ways of speaking can more accurately perceive speech in noise.
Effective start/end date3/1/228/31/23


  • National Science Foundation (BCS-2141430)


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.