SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION
My research focuses on the cognitive bases of second language (L2) fluency in Spanish, employing methods in psycholinguistics and interlanguage analysis. Most recently, I have been examining the relationship between second language fluency, second language proficiency, and cognitive abilities (such as lexical access, lexical retrieval, and attention control) through a comparative investigation of an immersion study abroad program and a traditional foreign language classroom. Based on my analysis of second language oral production and cognition, I underscore the fundamental importance of first-language inhibitory effects in the study abroad context. From a theoretical standpoint, I frame my findings within Leveltian models of speech production, arguing that more organic models are necessary to take into account the developmental nature of second language acquisition, especially at the levels of lexical access and attention control.
My research focuses on issues in the phonetics and phonology of different varieties of Spanish from a theoretical perspective, employing laboratory methods to validate my claims. I investigate topics in phonological structure at multiple levels of Spanish prosody: syllable structure, stress, intonation, rhythm, and voice quality. My most recent publications are based on the intonational structure of questions and statements in varieties of Spanish spoken in northern, central, and southern Spain, advancing new theoretical positions in autosegmental prosodic structure. I have also begun to explore the topic of second language rhythm in contact situations involving Spanish, focusing on English-Spanish and Afrikaans-Spanish bilingual communities. As a broad goal, I ask whether current models of second language speech learning generalize to the domain of speech rhythm within the prosodic hierarchy.