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Section 1

Dr. Silvina Montrul

Professor of French and Italian,Linguistics,Second Language Acquisition and Teacher Education,Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies,LAS Global Studies,Spanish and Portuguese,Beckman Institute, and Center for Global Studies

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Contact Information:

Office Hours:

  • by appointment only


I was born in Mar del Plata, Argentina and completed my undergraduate university education in Argentina. I received a Masters in English from the University of Cincinnati and a PhD in Linguistics from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. I have been a professor in SUNY-Albany and I came to the University of Illinois last century, in 1999.

I am a Professor in the Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese and in the Department of Linguistics.

Specializations / Research Interest(s)

  • Second language acquisition, bilingualism, heritage language acquisition

Research Description

  • Grounded in linguistic theory and using psycholinguistic methodologies,my research explores the following theoretical issues: 1) the linguistic nature of interlanguage and bilingual grammars, 2)  the role of the “other” language in the acquisition or loss of a language, 3) the reasons why some L2 learners/bilinguals reach the level of proficiency and linguistic knowledge of native speakers while others fall short of that level even when optimal conditions for learning are provided, 4) the linguistic selectivity of acquisition and loss, or why linguistic “success” or “failure” affects certain grammatical areas (vocabulary, sounds, meaning, verb endings, and discourse) but not others (sentence structure), and 5) the differences and similarities between linguistic processes attested in second language acquisition and bilingualism and other developmental processes typical of historicallanguage change and first language acquisition.


  • PhD. McGill University, Montreal

Distinctions / Awards

  • University Scholar 2013


  • National Science Foundation, Linguistics and International Programs. PI: Silvina Montrul, Co-PIs: Rakesh Bhatt and Roxana Girju. (Proposal No. BCS-0917593, ARRA). Research project title: Differential Object Marking in Spanish, Hindi and Romanian Heritage Speakers. Amount $303,444 for three years.


  • LING 514 Research Design and Statistics
  • SPAN 307 Bilingualism
  • SPAN/LING 588 Seminar in Second Language Acquisition
  • LING 529: Second Language Acquisition and Bilingualism
  • LING 489: Theoretical Foundations of Second Language Acquisition
  • SPAN 252: Introduction to Hispanic Linguistics



  • Montrul, Silvina. The Acquisition of Heritage Languages. . Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2016.
  • Montrul, Silvina. El bilingüismo en el mundo hispanohablante.. . Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013.
  • Montrul, S. Incomplete Acquisition in Bilingualism. Re-examining the Age Factor. [Series on Studies in Bilingualism]. . Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2008.
  • Montrul, S. The Acquisition of Spanish. Morphosyntactic Development in Monolingual and Bilingual L1 Acquisition and in Adult L2 Acquisition. [Series on Language Acquisition and Language Disorders]. . Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2004.

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Edited Books

  • Arregi, K., Z. Fagyal, S. Montrul, and A. Tremblay. Interactions in Romance. Selected papers from the 38th Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages.. . Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2010.

  • Slabakova, R, S Montrul, and P Prévost. Inquiries in Linguistic Development. In Honor of Lydia White. . Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2006.

  • Linguistic Theory and Language Development in Hispanic Languages. Selected Papers from the 5th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium and the 2001 Conference on the Acquisition of Spanish and Portuguese. . Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press, 2003.

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Journal Articles

  • Montrul, Silvina, Rakesh Bhatt, and Roxana Girju. "Differential Object Marking in Spanish, Hindi and Romanian as heritage languages. ." Language 91.3 (2015): 1-47.
  • Benmamoun, Elabbas, Abdulkafi Albirini, Silvina Montrul, and Eman Saadah. "Arabic plurals and root and pattern morphology in Palestinian and Egyptian heritage speakers. ." Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism 4.1 (2014): 89-123.
  • Montrul, Silvina, Justin Davidson, Israel de la Fuente, and Rebecca Foote. "Early language experience facilitates gender agreement processing in Spanish heritage speakers. ." Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 17.1, 118-138 (2014):
  • Benmamoun, Elabbas, Silvina Montrul, and Maria Polinsky. "Defining and “ideal” heritage speaker: Theoretical and methodological challenges. Reply to peer commentaries. ." Theoretical Linguistics 39.3-4 (2013): 259-294.
  • Montrul, Silvina, and Noelia Sánchez-Walker. "Differential object marking in child and adult Spanish heritage speakers. ." Language Acquisition 20.109-132 (2013):
  • Montrul, Silvina. "How native are heritage speakers? A look at gender agreement in Spanish. ." The Heritage Language Journal 10.2, 15-39 (2013):
  • Benmamoun, Elabbas, Silvina Montrul, and Maria Polinsky. "Keynote article. Heritage languages and their speakers: Opportunities and challenges for linguistics. ." Theoretical Linguistics 39.3-4 (2013): 129-181.
  • Montrul, Silvina, Israel de la Fuente, Justin Davidson, and Rebecca Foote. "The role of experience in the acquisition and production of diminutives and gender in Spanish: Evidence from L2 learners and heritage speakers." Second Language Reserach 29.1, 87-118 (2013):
  • Montrul, Silvina, and Tania Ionin. "Dominant language transfer in Spanish heritage speakers and L2 learners in the interpretation of definite articles. ." The Modern Language Journal 96.2 (2012): 70-94.
  • Montrul, Silvina, Rakesh Bhatt, and Archna Bhatia. "Erosion of case and agreement in Hindi heritage Speakers.." Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism 2 (2012): 141-176.
  • Ionin, T., S. Montrul, and H. Santos. "An Experimental Investigation of the Expression of Genericity in English, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese." Lingua 121 (2011): 963-985.
  • Montrul, S., R. Dias, and H. Santos. "Clitics and object expression in the L3 acquisition of Brazilian Portuguese. Structural similarity matters for transfer.." Special issue of Second Language Research on L3 acquisition 27.1 (2011): 21-58.
  • "Interfaces and incomplete acquisition." Lingua 212.4 (2011): 591-604.
  • "Morphological errors in Spanish second language learners and heritage speakers. ." Studies in Second Language Acquisition 33.2 (2011): 155-161.
  • Montrul, S. "Current issues in heritage language acquisition." Annual Review of Applied Linguistics 30 (2010): 3-23.
  • Montrul, S. "Dominant language transfer in Spanish L2 learners and heritage speakers." Special issue of Second Language Research 26.3 (2010): 293-925.
  • Montrul, S. "How similar are L2 learners and heritage speakers? Spanish clitics and word order." Applied Psycholinguistics 31 (2010): 167-207.
  • Montrul, S, and M Bowles. "Is grammar instruction beneficial for heritage language learners? Dative case marking in Spanish." The Heritage Language Journal 7.1 (2010): 47-73.
  • Montrul, S, and M Bowles. "Is grammar instruction beneficial for heritage language learners? Dative case marking in Spanish." The Heritage Language Journal 7.1 (2010): 47-73.
  • Ionin, T, and S Montrul. "The role of L1-transfer in the interpretation of articles with definite plurals in L2-English." Language Learning 60.4 (2010): 877-925.
  • Montrul, S., and T. Ionin. "Transfer effects in the interpretation of definite articles by Spanish heritage speakers.." Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 13.4 (2010): 449-473.
  • Montrul, S., and M. Bowles. "Back to basics: Differential Object Marking under incomplete acquisition in Spanish heritage speakers." Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 12.4 (2009): 363-383.
  • "Incomplete Acquisition of Tense-Aspect and Mood in Spanish Heritage Speakers." The International Journal of Bilingualism 13.3 (2009): 239-269.
  • Montrul, S.. "Reexamining the Fundamental Difference Hypothesis: What can early bilinguals tell us?." Studies in Second Language Acquisition 31.2 (2009): 225-257.
  • Montrul, S, R Foote, and S Perpiñán. "Gender agreement in adult second language learners and Spanish heritage speakers: The effects of age and context of acquisition." Language Learning 58.3 (2008): 503–553.
  • Montrul, S, and K Potowski. "Command of gender agreement in school-age Spanish bilingual children." International Journal of Bilingualism 11.3 (2007): 301–328.
  • Montrul, S. "Subject and object expression in Spanish heritage speakers: A case of morpho-syntactic convergence." Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 7.2 (2004): 125–142.
  • Montrul, S, and R Slabakova. "Competence similarities between native and near-native speakers: An investigation of the preterite/imperfect contrast in Spanish." Studies in Second Language Acquisition 25.3 (2003): 351-398.
  • "Incomplete acquisition and attrition of Spanish tense/aspect distinctions in adult bilinguals." Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 5.1 (2002): 39-68.