Document Type


Article Version

Publisher's PDF

Publication Date



Recently, great interest has emerged in identifying the learning needs of heritage language (HL) learners. In comparing HL and second language (L2) learners, research suggests that L2 learners outperform HL learners when examining writing abilities (Montrul, 2010; Potowski, 2013). However, complexity, accuracy, and fluency (CAF) have been overlooked when examining HL learners’ writing proficiency, and it could provide a better picture of their writing skills in a spontaneous untimed assignment. To address this issue, 28 L2 learners and 18 HL learners completed an untimed written production task on a non-academic subject and their written proficiency was assessed through CAF measures (Norris & Ortega, 2009). Results showed HL learners significantly outperformed L2 learners on two complexity measures: accuracy and fluency. A possible explanation for these findings could be the type of task used (more spontaneous, less-controlled), which taps into a more implicit type of knowledge, favoring HL learners (Bowles, 2011).


Copyright © 2015. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The final publisher PDF has been archived here with permission from the copyright holder.

Publication Title

EuroAmerican Journal of Applied Linguistics and Languages

Published Citation

Camus-Oyarzun, P. & Adrada-Rafael, S. (2015). Spanish heritage speakers vs. L2 learners: do writing skills differ after completing general content and tailor- made courses?. EuroAmerican Journal of Applied Linguistics and Languages, 2(2) (pp. 31-49).