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Dr. Silvina Montrul

Profile picture for Dr. Silvina  Montrul

Contact Information

University of Illinois
Dept. of Linguistics, MC-168
707 South Mathews Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801
Office: 4120 Foreign Languages Bldg.

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 in 1999.

I am a Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and in the Department of Linguistics and I teach graduate and undergraduate courses in Spanish and in English. I was Head of the Department of Spanish, Italian & Portuguese from 2010-2013 and Head of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese from 2015-2016. In 2010 I founded the University Language Academy for Children, an after school and summer camp Spanish program for 4-16 year old children, which I directed until 2018.

Research Interests

Second language acquisition
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)
  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


National Center for Supercomputer Applications (NCSA) Faculty Fellowship Program. Project Title: Analyzing and Visualizing Linguistic Variation in Monolingual and Bilingual Speakers. Montrul, S. (PI), David Durbin (co-PI), Scott Nicholson (NSCA collaborator). $24,977 for 1 year (AY 2021-2022).

National Institutes of Health, NICHD. NIH R03HD099491. Validating New Measures of Later Language Development with Spanish and English Monolinguals and Bilinguals. Montrul, S. (PI), Yan, X., Montag, J., Christianson, K. and Hadley, P. Amount: $142,614. Duration 24 months (2020-2022).

Social and Behavioral Sciences Research Initiative Small Grants Program, University of Illinois. Project Title:  Oral Language Development in School-age Dual Language Learners. Montrul, S. (PI), Montag, J., Christianson, K. and Hadley, P. Requested amount: $20,000 for 1 year (AY 2018-2019).

National Science Foundation, BCS, Perception, Action and Cognition. BCS-1431324      PI: Darren Tanner, co-PI: Silvina Montrul. Cognitive and Neurocognitive individual differences in native and non-native language processing. Amount  $391,376. Duration 36 months (2014-2018). 

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. Duration 36 months (2009-2012)

Awards and Honors

2024 L. Bloomfield Book Award from the Linguistics Society of America for "Native Speakers, Interrupted" (Cambridge University Press, 2022)

Marjorie Roberts Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences

University Scholar 2013

Courses Taught

Spanish & Prtuguese

  • SPAN 252: Introduction to Hispanic Linguistics
  • SPAN 305: The structure of Spanish
  • SPAN 307: Bilingualism
  • SPAN/LING 588 Seminar in Second Language Acquisition


  • LING 489: Theoretical Foundations of Second Language Acquisition
  • LING 514: Research Design and Statistics
  • LING 529: Second Language Acquisition and Bilingualism
  • LING 560: Seminar in Bilingualism

Additional Campus Affiliations

Professor, Spanish and Portuguese
Professor, Linguistics
Professor, French and Italian
Professor, Global Studies Programs and Courses
Professor, European Union Center
Professor, Center for Global Studies
Affiliate, Center for Social & Behavioral Science
Professor, Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology
Professor, Lemann Center for Brazilian Studies
Professor, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Honors & Awards

University Scholar 2013

Recent Publications

Coşkun Kunduz, A., & Montrul, S. (2024). Relative clauses in child heritage speakers of Turkish in the United States. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, 14(2), 218-254.

Montrul, S., & Armstrong, A. (2024). The Literacy Enhancement Hypothesis in bilingual language development. In E. Babatsouli (Ed.), Multilingual Acquisition and Learning: An ecosystemic view to diversity (pp. 60-89). (Studies in Bilingualism; Vol. 67). John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Montrul, S., Mason, S. A., & Armstrong, A. (2024). The Role of Language Experience in the Acquisition of Spanish Gender Agreement: A Study with Nonce Nouns. Languages, 9(2), Article 45.

Coşkun Kunduz, A., & Montrul, S. (2023). Input factors in the acquisition of evidentiality by Turkish heritage language children and adults in the United States. Language Acquisition. Advance online publication.

Gallardo, M., & Montrul, S. (2023). Property-by-property transfer in L3 Italian. In M. M. Brown-Bousfield, S. Flynn, & É. Fernández-Berkes (Eds.), L3 Development After the Initial State (pp. 236-271). (Studies in Bilingualism; Vol. 65). John Benjamins Publishing Company.

View all publications on Illinois Experts