You can check out my work in the following academic portals:
In addition to my research on mood and genericity/specificity, I am currently working on the projects listed below in collaboration with the Bilingualism and SLA language lab, the Rutgers Lab for Developmental Language studies and the following scholars: Jennifer Austin, Próspero N. García, David Giancaspro, Anne Lingwall, Mike Putnam, Liliana Sánchez & Kristen Syrett.
Dissertation: I examined Spanish heritage speakers (HS) and second language (L2) learners’ acquisition of obligatory and variable mood selection in two complement clauses: desideratives and reported speech contexts. The study interviewed 137 participants (HS: N=69; L2ers: N=68) with different proficiency levels using four experimental tasks: a truth-value judgment, two production tasks (written and oral), and an acceptability judgment task. Results show that accuracy is dependent on the interplay between participants’ level of proficiency, age of onset and frequency of Spanish use. Differences in age of exposure and frequency of activation also emerged at intermediate levels of proficiency, where HS outperformed their L2 peers in the interpretation and production of subjunctive in reported speech contexts. It is argued that earlier onset of acquisition and active use of Spanish favored the attainment of these structures. In general, the results suggest that the potential effects of vulnerability expected to emerge in mood alternations, appear to be minimized when propositional modality is controlled for.
Get a full version of my dissertation HERE.
Language activation and proficiency in Heritage Speakers
(in collaboration with Mike Putnam and Liliana Sánchez, Fall 2015- present)
In this project we build upon Putnam & Sánchez's (2013) model of heritage language acquisition by providing empirical data to explore the effects of frequency of activation and proficiency in HS' feature reassembly.
Fostering grammatical development by implementing Concept-Based Instruction (CB-I) in the heritage language classroom
(with Próspero N. García, Spring 2014- present).
This study qualitatively analyzes data from advanced Spanish Heritage Speakers (N=7) involved in a larger-scale project investigating the role of Concept-based Instruction (CBI) in the foreign language classroom (García, 2012). Participants’ conceptual understanding of aspectual contrasts (i.e. Preterit/Imperfect tenses) was examined over a period of 12 weeks, and consists of two types of data: written (definition and performance data) and oral production (verbalizations occurred during teacher-student interactions). Findings suggest that participants’ verbalizations are a key factor to ascertain conceptual development in the heritage language, as well as being an insightful mediational tool to foster the development and internalization of grammatical concepts. This study was presented at the International Symposium of Bilingualism (ISB10), and at the XXII Sociocultural Theory & Second Language learning Research Working Group Meeting.
Dislocated subjects in the English of early sequential Spanish-English bilinguals
(with Jennifer Austin and Liliana Sánchez, Spring 2014- present).
The aim of this project is to study the effects of language contact on the grammatical development of Spanish children who are learning English as their second language. In particular, we are interested in analyzing subject left dislocations, a structure that has been previously documented in the narratives of early bilingual populations (Juan-Garau & Pérez-Vidal, 2001; Lofranco et al. 2006), and that was recently observed in our ongoing project on the distribution of null subjects in Spanish-English bilinguals
The interaction of overt/null subjects with continuous and discontinuous topics (Spanish/English bilinguals, ages 3-5)
(with Liliana Sánchez, Jennifer Austin and David Giancaspro, September 2014-present).
Expansion of the original 2014 project using experimental techniques and testing children in two public schools in New Brunswick, NJ.
The distribution of overt/null subjects in English-Spanish bilingual children (ages 5-6)
(with Jennifer Austin and Liliana Sánchez, Spring 2014- present).
In this paper we investigate the development of subject production in English and Spanish in 8 heritage bilingual children (age range: 4;3-5;7; mean age: 5;2) who are acquiring non-Caribbean varieties of Spanish at home and English as an L2 at school. In particular, we examined whether there was a transfer of null-subject properties from their Spanish to their English. The children’s oral production of overt and null subjects in both languages was assessed using a picture-based story re-telling task and a description task. Sentential subjects were coded according to type (DP, overt pronoun or null), and pragmatic function (new information, topic continuation, topic recovery, contrast and change of topic). Our results indicate that while there seems to be a robust distribution of pragmatically appropriate null and overt subjects in Spanish, non-target null subjects are transferred from the dominant language (Spanish) into English. We propose that both the Spanish and the English of the heritage speakers analyzed in this study are consistently null-subject languages because in both languages a) null subjects are possible with fully inflected verbs, and b) they have a similar distribution of pragmatically appropriate antecedents.
The investigation is coordinated by Professors Liliana Sánchez, Jennifer Austin and Gretchen Van de Walle. Undergraduate RAs from the Aresty Program are involved in data collection, coding and interpretation and are mentored by a graduate student (myself).
This study is currently under review at a volume edited by John Benjamins.
The Acquisition of Scalar Implicatures by English/Spanish bilingual children (ages 3-6)
(Rutgers Lab for Developmental Language Studies, 2012-2015).
In this study, we investigate whether English/Spanish bilingual children have acquired the pragmatic implicature present in the quantifiers algunos/unos ("some") vs. todos ("all"). Preliminary results for this study have been published in Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism (in press), and we are currently collecting data in English to get more information about the quantifiers some and all in the same population. This project is coordinated by Professors Kristen Syrett, Liliana Sánchez and Jennifer Austin, and it involves the collaboration of the Aresty undergraduate RAs Hannah Baker, Anthony Arias-Amaya, Christina Germak and the graduate students Anne Lingwall and myself. Follow the link provided to access the poster we presented at the Hispanic Linguistics Symposium (HLS) hosted by the University of Ottawa in 2013: Click here.
Mood distinctions in non-obligatory contexts: a study on Spanish heritage speakers' interpretation and production
In this project, I examined the comprehension and production of subjunctive mood morphology in non-obligatory contexts by adult Heritage Speakers (HS), emphasizing the effects of frequency of activation and age of onset of bilingualism on their performance (click here to know more).
Proficiency and age effects in the interpretation and production of subject plural NPs by adult heritage speakers of Spanish
This project examines the interpretation and production of English and Spanish subject plural noun phrases (NPs and DPs) in 42 Heritage Speakers of Spanish. Results from three experimental tasks on acceptability, interpretation and production showed that the interplay between age of onset of bilingualism effects in English and proficiency and reduced activation in Spanish induce different levels of grammatical restructuring in the interpretation and production of subject plural NP/DPs in both languages. These results suggest that previously reported instances of crosslinguistic transfer in this domain might have been much more complex than originally thought.
The Interpretation of Present Progressive Aspectual Features by L2 Spanish learners and heritage language speakers
(September 2011- June 2012)
In the last decade, researchers within Second Language Acquisition (SLA) have adopted Chomsky's theory of Universal Grammar (UG) in order to investigate the role linguistic features play in the acquisition of language (Liceras et al., 2008; Montrul: 2009, 2011). This study is centered on 1) the acquisition and nature of the semantic features that configure Spanish and English present progressives and 2) the role transfer plays in the attainment of the aforementioned properties. According to Lardiere (2009) and Travis (2008) the process of language acquisition consists of learning how linguistic features are assembled in a specific language. By adopting this theoretical framework, it can be implied that the role of the second language learner is to discover where the cross-linguistic differences lie (if there are any) and to acquire and reassemble the new configurations. The aim of this study is to shed light on the acquisition of semantic properties by heritage speakers and Spanish second language learners whose L1 presents a different feature configuration than the target language. In addition, it was also studied whether or not the lexical aspect of the verbs affected the way L2 and heritage language learners interpreted the targeted tense. The aforementioned issues were analyzed through a grammaticality judgment test administered to two experimental groups: 14 L2 advanced Spanish students (+120 hours) and 11 advanced heritage speakers, as well as a control group formed by native speakers of peninsular and Latin American Spanish.
The acquisition of idiomatic expressions through a cognitive linguistics-based instruction: a pilot study
(January 2011- June 2011).
The aim of this pilot study is to explore the effectivity of implementing various techniques postulated by Cognitive Linguistics (CL) in the acquisition of vocabulary in the foreign language classroom.
“Si yo tuviera mucho dinero, obvio que le diera dinero a ellos” la alternancia modal en las oraciones condicionales potenciales en el español de Nueva Inglaterra
(January 2011- June 2011)
El presente estudio tiene como objetivo el análisis de la variación modal observada en cláusulas condicionales de tipo potencial, donde las formas de condicional y de pretérito imperfecto de subjuntivo co-varían tanto en la prótasis como en la apódosis. Aunque han sido muchas las investigaciones sobre variación en hispanohablantes y en hablantes de herencia (Montrul: 2009, 2011, Silva-Corvalán: 2001), son pocos los estudios que tratan el tema propuesto en este trabajo (Kany: 1951, Gutiérrez: 1996, Lavandera: 1975). Los datos de esta investigación se enmarcan en unas coordenadas muy particulares, ya que proceden de las entrevistas orales compiladas en “The New England Corpus of Heritage and Second Language Speakers”. Estas grabaciones pertenecen a la variedad lingüística de contacto establecida entre hablantes de español de distintos puntos de Hispanoamérica residentes en los estados de Nueva Inglaterra (EEUU). La novedad de este estudio es el análisis de los datos a dos niveles: según su posición sintáctica (prótasis y apódosis) y según la semántica (condicionales futuras y contrafácticas). Además de confirmar las hipótesis propuestas por Kany (1951), Silva-Corvalán (1985, 2001) y (Gutiérrez: 1996) sobre la distribución temporal en las oraciones condicionales, este estudio apuntará a una sistematicidad dentro de la co-variación temporal/modal en este tipo de construcciones.