WHAT ARE THE SET OF FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO PROFICIENT ADULT LANGUAGE LEARNING?
Adult language learning is arguably one of the most challenging and complex tasks for the adult mind. Indeed, adults often struggle when learning a second language (L2) or reconnecting with their heritage language (HL), resulting in a great deal of variability in their learning trajectories and outcomes. In my work, I investigate the relative role that both learner-internal (i.e., linguistic, brain-based, (socio)cognitive) and external (i.e., environmental and learning contexts) play in understanding variability in L2/LH development, (grammatical) processing, and use as well as how those individual factors interact to achieve proficient adult bilingualism.
BILINGUALISM IMPACTS LINGUISTIC AND COGNITIVE FUNCTION: INVESTIGATING THE NEUROCOGNITION OF BILINGUALISM
A critical issue in L2/bilingualism research is understanding how two or more languages interact in the mind/brain of bilinguals. A substantial amount of research provides evidence that bilinguals' languages interact and influence each other despite constant processes that allow bilinguals to distinguish and use their languages separately. This constant interaction has been shown to result in changes to the linguistic and cognitive systems of bilinguals. Understanding the ways in which the adult mind/brain processes and uses multiple languages, as well as how the (becoming) bilingual experience impacts linguistic and (neuro)cognitive function using a variety of different experimental methods constitutes another way in which I address the overarching goal of my research program.
CHARACTERIZING THE INHERENTLY DIVERSE AND DYNAMIC NATURE OF BILINGUALISM
In recent years, an ever-growing majority of researchers and educators in the field of language learning and bilingualism have embraced the unequivocal fact that no two bilinguals are the same. In my research, I explore more ecologically valid and inclusive ways to characterize bilingualism as the inherently diverse, vibrant, and multidimensional life experience that it is. This need is particularly relevant when working with minoritized and racialized communities, such as heritage bilinguals, given that failure to explicitly embrace the dynamic nature of language and the intrinsic heterogeneity of bilingual experiences in the past has resulted in the dissemination of inaccurate and harmful information often contributing to the perpetuation of prescriptive and hegemonic views within bilingualism research.