Foreign accent in adult simultaneous bilinguals

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The study reported in this paper examines foreign accent (FA) in adult simultaneous bilinguals (2L1ers). Specifically, we investigate how accent is affected if a first language is acquired as a minority (heritage) language as compared to a majority (dominant) language. We compare the perceived FA in both languages of 38 adult 2L1ers (German-French and German-Italian) to that of monolingual native speakers (L1ers) and late second language learners (L2ers). Naturalistic speech samples are judged by 84 native speakers of the respective languages. Results indicate that the majority language is always spoken without an FA, while results for the heritage language fall between those of L1 and L2 speakers. For the heritage language, we further show that a native accent correlates with length of residence in the heritage country during childhood but not during adulthood. Furthermore, raters have comparatively more difficulties when judging the accent of a heritage speaker. The results of this study add to our current understanding of what factors shape the phonology of a heritage language system in adulthood.


  • Tanja Kupisch
  • Dagmar Barton
  • Katja Hailer
  • Ewgenia Klaschik
  • Ilse Stangen
  • Tatjana Lein
  • Joost van de Weijer
External organisations
  • University of Konstanz
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics


  • foreign accents, sequential bilinguals, critical period hypothesis
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-150
JournalHeritage Language Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch