The focus of research and teaching of the Spanish Linguistics Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is on descriptive, theoretical, and experimental linguistics, with special emphasis on the understanding of the nature of language, language contact, and language diversity in the Spanish-speaking world. This common interest is developed through: (a) historical comparative analysis of Spanish and other Romance languages; (b) the study of the structural properties of Spanish (phonology, prosody, morphology, syntax, semantics) in the context of cross-linguistic tendencies, and of the properties of languages that are in contact with Spanish (Quechua, Basque, Catalan); (c) the study of variation and change in grammars (sociolinguistics and dialectology), and of the properties of language contact phenomena in Spanish in contact with Quechua, Basque, Catalan, and English; and (d) the acquisition and processing of bilingual grammars (as second languages and heritage languages) in naturalistic and in classroom settings.
What makes our program unique nationwide is its strong links with the Linguistics Department, the Department of French and Italian, and the Second Language Acquisition and Teacher Education Program (SLATE). Our interdisciplinary focus is also emphasized by collaborations with the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, The European Studies Center, Library and Information Science, Computer Science, Psychology, Educational Psychology, Speech and Hearing Sciences, and the Beckman Institute. Two state-of-the-art research labs shared with Linguistics and French and Italian—the Phonetics and Phonology Lab and the Second Language Acquisition and Bilingualism Lab— provide solid training to our graduate and undergraduate students and attract visiting scholars from abroad.
We offer PhD and MA degrees and train our graduate students to conduct cutting-edge research in Spanish linguistics. Our graduate students work closely with faculty on research projects and in reading groups and regularly present their work in the most prestigious conferences including the Linguistic Association of the Southwest, the Asociación de Lingüística y Filología de América Latina, the Hispanic Linguistics Symposium, the Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages, Laboratory Approaches to Romance Phonology, Laboratory Phonology, Phonetics and Phonology in Iberia, Latin American Studies Association, Second Language Research Forum, American Association for Applied Linguistics, Generative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition, Spanish in the United States, and the Boston University Conference on Language Development. Journals where our students have published their work include the Journal of Pragmatics, Language Learning, Second Language Research, and the Heritage Language Journal. We also have an excellent placement record. Graduates from our Spanish Linguistics doctoral program routinely obtain tenure-track positions at renowned national and international institutions such as Georgetown University, University of Arizona, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Florida State University, University of Illinois at Chicago, Indiana University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Pennsylvannia State University, Michigan State University, The University of Western Ontario, University of Nebraska, University of Alabama, and Middlebury College, among others.
Melissa Bowles, Associate Professor (classroom second language acqusition, heritage language learners, second language assessment)
Anna Maria Escobar, Associate Professor (language variation and change, contact linguistics and bilingualism, morphology and semantic change, Spanish sociolinguistics and dialectology, Spanish-Quechua contact, Andean sociolinguistics)
José Ignacio Hualde, Professor (phonetics and phonology, prosody, historical linguistics, Basque, Catalan)
Jill Jegerski, Associate Professor (Second language acquisition, sentence processing/comprehension, near-nativeness and ultimate attainment, heritage language instruction, psycholinguistic methods in SLA research)
Jonathan MacDonald, Assistant Professor (syntactic theory, syntax-semantics interface, language variation)
Silvina Montrul, Professor (second language acquisition, bilingualism, heritage language acquisition, psycholinguistics, morphosyntax, syntax-semantics interface)