Date of Graduation

Fall 2018


Master of Applied Second Language Acquisition


Modern and Classical Languages

Committee Chair

Luciane L. Maimone


heritage speakers, heritage language, vocabulary depth, language use, language loss

Subject Categories

Modern Languages


Persons whose home environment features a non-majority language are known as heritage speakers. The nature and conditions of Spanish heritage speakers’ interaction with their heritage language significantly affects their command of it. The aim of this study is to explore vocabulary depth among 10-year-old heritage language speakers in Springfield, Missouri, and its relationship to language use at home. This study adds to the body of knowledge related to heritage language development by exploring language use at home and church activities, as well as vocabulary depth in Spanish heritage speakers in the Springfield metropolitan area by investigating social and linguistic aspects of Spanish heritage speakers, the use of Spanish at home and at church activities and how this affects the vocabulary depth of children. Oral surveys were conducted with the parents of the children and with the children themselves. The children’s language depth was explored using a vocabulary depth measure. The study was not able to demonstrate the expected correlation between vocabulary depth and language use at home. The results of this study indicate that further investigation is needed to ascertain the relationship between language use in the home and vocabulary depth among Spanish heritage speakers in the Springfield, Missouri, metropolitan area.


© Elsy B. Shuford

Open Access