Silvina A. Montrul's directory photo.

Silvina A. Montrul


Primary Affiliation

Illinois Language and Literacy Initiative


Status Affiliate Faculty

Home Department of Spanish and Portuguese

Phone 333-1780



  • Biography

    Silvina Montrul is a professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. She joined the University of Illinois in 1999 as an assistant professor of spanish. Her areas of expertise are linguistic and psycholinguistic approaches to second language acquisition and bilingualism, language attrition, heritage languages, and the acquisition of the Spanish and Portuguese. At the Beckman Institute she is affiliated with the Artificial Intelligence Research Group in the human computer intelligent interaction (HCII) research initiative.


    • Ph.D., linguistics, McGill University
  • Honors
    • 2013: University Scholar 
  • Research

    Research interests:

    • Second language acquisition

    • bilingualism

    • heritage language acquisition

    Grounded in linguistic theory and using psycholinguistic methodologies, my research explores the following theoretical issues: the role of the “other” language in the acquisition or loss of a language, 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, 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), and the differences and similarities between linguistic processes attested in second language acquisition and bilingualism and other developmental processes typical of historical language change and first language acquisition.