An Analysis of Heritage Speaker Writing Development Over Three Months of Instruction

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Lauren Miller


Despite growing numbers of heritage speakers (HS) in all levels of language classrooms, much remains to be understood about how instruction affects acquisition and/or maintenance of a heritage language. The present study adds to this line of research by exploring writing tasks completed by university-level HS of Spanish over the course of a semester to determine which areas HS struggle most with and how this changes as a result of instruction. Results show that error count did decrease, suggesting improvement. The highest proportion of errors came from difficulties with accent marks and other orthography, which also showed the most improvement at the end of the study. Interestingly, accent marks used for purely orthographic reasons ( vs. tu), did not show the same level of improvement, suggesting that regular patterns may be easier to learn and apply to subsequent production activities in comparison to areas requiring memorization, such as accents differentiating lexical items, non-canonical gender, and vocabulary. 

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