Individual differences play a key role in explaining variability in learning outcomes among adult second language learners. Researchers have begun examining the additional language learning experiences of learners with different profiles including bilinguals, aging learners and learners with low literacy levels in their first language. In this talk, I will present briefly data from three studies that address the prior language learning experience of adult heritage bilinguals, or speakers who grew up speaking a non-English language (Spanish) at home and in their communities. These studies entertain the following general questions: (1). Are heritage bilinguals the true agents of language change?; (2). Do heritage bilinguals demonstrate an advantage in cognitive control?; and (3). Are task-based pedagogical interventions effective in promoting heritage bilinguals’ (re) learning of the heritage language? The results of these studies imply that the experience of heritage bilinguals lead to various learning and cognitive outcomes.
Julio Torres is Assistant Professor of Spanish and Portuguese at UC Irvine.