The Acquisition of Dialect-specific Phonology, Phonetics, and Sociolinguistics in L2 Spanish

Untangling Learner Trends

  • Elena Schoonmaker-Gates Elon University
Keywords: Sociophonetics, L2 phonology, Second language acquisition, Dialect acquisition


How regional variation shapes second language (L2) perception and manifests in the production of second language learners has received more and more attention from linguists recently. Within the emerging field of L2 sociophonetics, both perception and production studies are essential for understanding L2 phonological dialect acquisition, but neither alone can provide a full picture of a learner’s development. This paper surveys the learner trends observed in recent research on regional sound acquisition in L2 Spanish in both areas, tying findings to theoretical models in L2 speech perception and sociolinguistic acquisition, and considering what elements of acquisition the models fail to address. This review confirms the interdisciplinary nature of L2 regional sound learning, as social factors like identity and social networks predict dialect variant acquisition alongside L2 proficiency, exposure, and other linguistic and situational factors. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the developing field of L2 sociophonetics and dialectology, future research is needed that maps a variety of social, linguistic, and individual factors and their role in L2 regional acquisition.

Author Biography

Elena Schoonmaker-Gates, Elon University

Elena Schoonmaker-Gates is an Associate Professor of Spanish in the Department of World Languages and Cultures at Elon University. She holds a Ph.D. in Hispanic Linguistics from Indiana University and a Master’s Degree from Middlebury College. Her research interests and publications focus on Second Language Acquisition and its intersection with foreign accent, dialect perception and production, and sociophonetics, with a special interest in how research can inform language pedagogy. Dr. Schoonmaker-Gates regularly teaches undergraduate Spanish classes at all levels, but especially enjoys mentoring research and teaching courses on L2 Phonology and Phonetics, Spanish Sociolinguistics, Second Language Acquisition, and Spanish Dialectology. She has presented her research findings at national and international conferences, and published work in a variety of journals specializing in Spanish, Spanish linguistics, and language pedagogy.