Knowledge of Tense, Aspect and Mood in Heritage Language Speakers

The Case of Hybrid Spanish for Business Courses


  • Estrella Rodriguez Florida State University
  • Anel Brandl Florida State University


This article reports on the grammatical knowledge displayed by a group of Spanish heritage speakers (HSs) when they submitted answers to online homework assignments in a hybrid language course for specific purposes (LSP). Participants received grammatical input through a combination of classroom and online instruction, a hybrid modality. We examined the performance of the HSs on the online assignments, and compared it with a group of L2 learners. The structures of interest were the preterite, imperfect and subjunctive mood in various propositions (volition, doubt, emotion, adverbial temporal clauses, and imperfect subjunctive). Analyses of variance showed no significant differences between the HSs and the L2 learners in the preterite-imperfect contrasts. On the use of subjunctive morphology, HSs were less accurate in subjunctive sentences with adverbial temporal clauses and with the imperfect subjunctive. We conclude that complex subjunctive subordinations remain a vulnerable area in HSs’ end-state grammars even after instruction. We argue that heritage differential acquisition of the subjunctive in naturalistic contexts (vs formal instruction in L2 learners) has had an impact in adult heritage subjunctive knowledge. LSP courses may help them integrate language-related competencies via discourse diversity found in non-academic contexts by creating connections to other disciplines.