Department of Spanish & Italian

Irma Alarcón

Irma Alarcón

Ph.D. in Hispanic Linguistics, Indiana University
Associate Professor of Spanish and Linguistics

Office: Greene Hall 519
Phone: (336) 758-5194


Irma Alarcón is a native of Chile, and received her PhD in Hispanic Linguistics from Indiana University, Bloomington. She teaches courses in psycholinguistics and TESOL linguistics, as well as Spanish grammar for both English-speaking learners and heritage speakers (early bilinguals). Her primary research focuses on theoretical issues concerning the role of linguistic variables, such as noun gender and morphology, on the acquisition of Spanish gender agreement. Her most recent work has analyzed heritage Spanish speakers, and offers both theoretical implications concerning differences between first and second language acquisition and pedagogical insights into the burgeoning field of teaching Spanish to Latinos in the U.S.

Please click here to see full CV: Irma V. Alarcón.


2005    Ph.D., Hispanic Linguistics. Indiana University, Bloomington

1998    M.A., Hispanic Linguistics, Indiana University, Bloomington

1998    M.A., Applied Linguistics (TESOL), Indiana University, Bloomington

1990    B.A., English Language, Literature, and Pedagogy, Universidad de Concepción, Chile


“Gender and number agreement in the oral production of Spanish heritage and second language learners.” FLANC Fall Conference at the Marriott/Embassy Suites in Winston-Salem, NC. October 26, 2019.

“Grammatical features and structures in the oral production of Spanish second language and heritage learners.” 101st Annual AATSP Conference. Town and Country Hotel, San Diego, California July 8-11, 2019.

“English-Spanish bilinguals: What language teachers need to know about their students’ linguistic profiles.” International Conference on Bilingualism and Interculturality: Challenges, Limits, and Solutions. UNED, Madrid, Spain: November 29-30, 2018.

“Grammatical gender in English-Spanish bilinguals: The role of age and learning context.” AATSP-ON Annual Conference: Hybrid Education/Educación Híbrida. University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada: November 3, 2018.

“Grammatical gender in L2 acquisition: The relation between knowledge and processing.” Symposium on Multidisciplinary Approaches to Child and Adult Language Acquisition. Penn State University, State College, PA: October 4-5, 2018.


Guest speaker at the “Workshop for Heritage and Native Speakers,” a panel organized by Paloma Fernández Sánchez. University of North Carolina, Charlotte, NC: February 5, 2020.

Gave a talk for the Neuroscience program on aphasias. Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC: November 14, 2017.

Organized and moderated the “Latinx Language and Identity Panel” for the WFU Latinx / Hispanic Heritage Month. Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC: October 10, 2017.

Gave a talk on heritage language learning and teaching for the county-wide World Languages meeting. Central Davidson High School. Lexington, NC: December 14, 2016.

Gave a seventy-five minute lecture for the Neuroscience program on the biological foundations of language. Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC: November 22, 2016.


William C. Archie Fund for Faculty Excellence. A grant that aims to promote excellence in the undergraduate faculty by supporting research and professional development. Spring 2019.

Provost Fund for Faculty Travel. An award that supports faculty who are participating in an academic conference or conducting other research-related travel approved by the department chair or dean. Fall 2018.

  1. Smith Reynolds Foundation Faculty Fellowship. A fellowship by the Wake Forest Faculty Fellowship Program, which provides financial support designed to honor WFU best teacher-scholars. July 1, 2012 – June 30, 2014.


Delta Zeta’s 2016-2017 Faculty of the Month Program. Invited by Delta Zeta to an Academic Reception in celebration of their Faculty of the Month program, which honors professors that have had a positive and lasting influence on their members. Spring, 2017.

WFU Volleyball Professor Appreciation Night. Invited to attend volleyball match honoring faculty, chosen by the players, who have greatly enhanced their collegiate experience. Fall, 2013.

Wake Forest Mortar Board Honor Society Faculty Appreciation Event. Invited to attend reception honoring faculty members who have made a difference. Spring 2008.


Ad-hoc reviewer of articles submitted to:

Archivum; Language; Journal of the European Second Language Association; Sintagma. Journal of Linguistics; Language and Education; International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching; Language Awareness; Journal of Cognitive Science; International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism; Revista Signos. Estudios de Lingüística; Linguistics Approaches to Bilingualism; Hispanic Studies Review; Applied Psycholinguistics; Second Language Research; Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics; Bilingualism, Language and Cognition; Heritage Language Journal; Lingua; Language Learning; Foreign Language Annals; Scientific Journals International; Southwest Journal of Linguistics; Hispania; and Indiana University Linguistics Club Working Papers Online.


Modern Language Association (MLA)

American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL)

American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL)

American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP)

Published Dissertation

Alarcón, I. (2006). The second language acquisition of Spanish gender agreement: The effects of linguistic variables on accuracy. Munich, Germany: Lincom Europa.

Reviewed in: Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 30, 253-254, 2008, by E. Zyzik.

Refereed Journal Articles

Alarcón, I. Adjectival and verbal agreement in the oral production of early and late bilinguals: Fluency, complexity, and integrated knowledge. (Under Review).

Alarcón, I. Early and late bilingual processing of Spanish gender, morphology, and gender congruency. (Under Review).

Alarcón, I. (2011). Spanish grammatical gender under complete and incomplete acquisition: Early and late bilinguals’ linguistic behavior within the noun phrase.  Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 14(3), 332-350.

Alarcón, I. (2010). The Effects of instruction on the written proficiency of heritage speakers of Spanish: A case study. PAIDEIA, Revista de Educación, 48, 55-74.

Alarcón, I. (2010). Gender assignment and agreement in L2 Spanish: The effects of morphological marking, animacy, and gender. Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics, 3(2), 267-299.

Alarcón, I. (2010). Advanced heritage learners of Spanish: A Sociolinguistic profile for pedagogical purposes. Foreign Language Annals, 43(2), 269-288.

Alarcón, I. (2009). The processing of gender agreement in L1 and L2 Spanish: Evidence from reaction time data. Hispania, 92(4), 814-828.

Alarcón, I. (2007). Conceptualizing and implementing comprehensible input in the foreign language classroom. PAIDEIA, Revista de Educación, 43, 57-71.

Alarcón, I. (2004). The sequential acquisition of L2 Spanish gender marking: Assignment and agreement. Indiana University Linguistics Club Working Papers Online, 4(7), 1-23. Retrieved from

Alarcón, I. (2003). The polysemy of the conjunction y in Spanish proverbs. Indiana University Linguistics Club Working Papers Online, 3(2), 1-16. Retrieved from

Alarcón, I. (2002). Syntactic complexity and processing difficulty: Towards an objective syntactic measure of text simplification. Indiana University Linguistics Club Working Papers Online, 2(8), 1-10. Retrieved from

Alarcón, M.A., & Alarcón, I. (1992). Sistemas de aprendizaje interactivos y adquisición de lenguas. RLA, Revista de Lingüística Aplicada, 30, 51-60.

Book Chapters

Alarcón, I. (2013). Grammatical gender in second language Spanish. In K. Geeslin (Ed.), The handbook of Spanish second language acquisition. (pp. 202-218). Malden, MA: Wiley-  Blackwell.

Alarcón, I. (2008). ¿Cómo es que “un vestido” es masculino y “una corbata” es femenina? In J. D. Ewald & A. Edstrom (Eds.), El español a través de la lingüística: Preguntas y respuestas (pp. 26-38). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.

Other Publications

Alarcón, I. (2000). Design your own ranch house. In K. Ryan (ed.), Recipes for wired teachers. Practical ideas by teachers for teachers. (pp. 106-107). Nagoya, Japan: Japan Association of Language Teaching, Computer Assisted Language Learning Special Interest Group (JALT CALL SIG).

Alarcón, I. (2000). Furnish your new apartment. In K. Ryan (ed.), Recipes for wired teachers.   Practical ideas by teachers for teachers. (pp. 108-109). Nagoya, Japan: Japan  Association of Language Teaching, Computer Assisted Language Learning Special Interest Group (JALT CALL SIG).

Invited Book Reviews

Alarcón, I. (2015). Lexical processing and second language acquisition by Tokowicz, N. The Modern Language Journal, 99(4), 805-806.

Alarcón, I. (2015). Writing about quantitative research in applied linguistics by Woodrow, L. The Modern Language Journal, 99(3), 628-629.

Alarcón, I. (2014). Taller de escritores: Grammar and composition for advanced Spanish by Bleichmar, G. & Cañón, P. The Modern Language Journal, 98(1), 492-493.

Alarcón, I. (2012). The earliest stages of language learning by Gullberg, M. & Indefrey, P. (Eds.).  The Modern Language Journal, 96(1), 133-135.

Alarcón, I. (2011). Critical Period Hypothesis Revisited: The Impact of Age on Ultimate Attainment in the Pronunciation of a Foreign Language by Jedynak, M. The Modern Language Journal, 95(1), 144-146.

Alarcón, I. (2008). The language of language: Core concepts in linguistic analysis by Cruz-Ferreira, M. & Abraham, S.A. The Modern Language Journal, 92(3), 477-478.

Alarcón, I. (2007). Fossilized second language grammars: The acquisition of grammatical gender by Franceschina, F. The Modern Language Journal, 91(3), 475-476.

Spanish courses

Special Topics in Hispanic Linguistics: Language and Society (SPA 379)
Introduction to Hispanic Linguistics
 (SPA 320)
Grammar and Composition for Heritage Speakers of Spanish (SPA 309L)
Grammar and Composition (SPA 309)
Intensive Spanish – Salamanca (SPA 301)
Spanish Internships – Salamanca (SPA 199)
Intermediate Spanish (SPA 153)
Intensive Elementary Spanish (SPA 113)
Elementary Spanish (SPA 111)

Linguistics courses

Introduction to Psycholinguistics and Language Acquisition (LIN 330)
TESOL Linguistics (LIN 337/EDU 637)
Introduction to Linguistics (LIN/ANT 150)

Graduate courses

U.S. Heritage Speakers and Bilingualism (TIS 734)
Introduction to Hispanic Linguistics (SPA 629)