Profile: Jennifer Austin

Associate Professor and Department Chair

Center for Migration and the Global City, Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies


Jennifer Austin is an associate professor and Chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies at Rutgers University, Newark. She received her Ph.D. in Linguistics from Cornell University with a minor in Cognitive Science, and before coming to Rutgers-Newark she taught at Williams College. Her research interests include first and second language acquisition, first language attrition, and the effects of bilingualism on language processing and cognition. She has written articles on the acquisition of syntax by children learning Basque, English, and Spanish, and has collected data for her research in the U.S. and in Spain. Austin is a member of the graduate faculty in Psychology at Rutgers-Newark and in Spanish and Portuguese at Rutgers-New Brunswick, where she is also a member of the Bilingualism and Second Language Acquisition Group.  In addition, she is a co-founder of HoLa, a dual-immersion charter school in Hoboken, NJ.

  • Departments

     Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies at Rutgers University, Newark.

    Graduate faculty member:

    Department of Psychology, Rutgers University, Newark.

    Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Rutgers University, New Brunswick.

  • Courses Taught


    Rutgers-Newark: Language Acquisition, History of the Spanish Language, Latino Bilingualism, Teaching Methodologies for World Languages 

    Rutgers, New Brunswick: Bilingual Language Acquisition (graduate seminar)


  • Education

    Ph.D., Linguistics, minor in Cognitive Science, Cornell University

    B.A., Earlham College

  • Publications


    Austin, J., Blume, M. and Sánchez, L. (2015). Bilingualism in the Spanish-speaking world: Linguistic and cognitive perspectives. Cambridge University Press.


    Austin, J. (Under review). The role of defaults in morphological acquisition: The case of child Basque. In J. Coon, D. Massam and L. Travis, (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Ergativity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Austin, J., Sánchez, L. and Pérez, S. (Under review). Null subjects in the early acquisition of English by child heritage speakers of Spanish. In S. Perpiñán and D. Heap, (eds.), Proceedings of LSRL 44. 

    Austin, J. (Under review). Ergative case marking in L1 and L2 Basque-speaking adults and children. In P. Larrañaga and J. Barnes, (eds.), Input and the Acquisition of Basque. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 

    Austin, J. (2015). Transfer and contact-induced variation in child Basque. In C. O'Shannessy, (ed.), special research topic: Acquisition in Contact. Frontiers in Psychology.

    Austin, J. (2013). Ergativity in child Basque. In E. Banvin and S. Stoll, (eds.), The Acquisition of Ergativity. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 35-70.

    Austin, J., Blume, M. and Sánchez, L. (2013). Morphosyntactic attrition in the L1 of Spanish-English bilingual children. Hispania, 96 (3), 542-561.

    Austin, J. (2013). Markedness, input frequency and the acquisition of inflection: Evidence from Basque/Spanish bilingual children. International Journal of Bilingualism, 17(3), 259-283. Special issue on Basque bilingualism edited by P. Larrañaga and P. Guijarro-Fuentes.

    Austin, J. (2012). The case-agreement hierarchy in acquisition: Evidence from children learning Basque. Lingua, 122 (3),  289-302. Special issue on ergativity edited by I. Laka and B. Fernández. 

    Austin, J. (2010). Rich inflection and the production of root infinitives in child language. Morphology 20 (1), 41–69.

    Austin, J. (2009). Delay, interference and bilingual development: The acquisition of verbal morphology in children learning Basque and Spanish. International Journal of Bilingualism 13 (4): 447–479.

    Austin, J. (2007). Grammatical interference and the acquisition of ergative case in bilingual children learning Basque and Spanish. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 10 (3): 315–331.

    Austin, J. (2006). Dative overmarking in Basque: Evidence of Spanish-Basque convergence. Euskalingua 9, 136–145.

    Foursha, C., Austin, J. and Van de Walle, G. (2006). Is language processing identical in monolinguals and early, balanced bilinguals? In D. Bamman, T. Magnitskaia and C. Zaller, (eds.), Proceedings Supplement of the 30th Boston University Conference on Language Development.

    Santlemann, L., Berk, S., Austin, J., Somashekar, S. and Lust, B. (2002). Continuity and development in the acquisition of inversion in yes/no questions: Dissociating movement and inflection. The Journal of Child Language. 29(4):813-842.

    Austin, J., Blume, M., Parkinson, D., Lust, B. and Núñez del Prado, Z. (1998). Interactions between pragmatic and syntactic knowledge in the first language acquisition of Spanish null and overt pronominals. In J. Lema and E. Trevino, (eds.), Theoretical Research on Romance Languages: Selected Papers from the Twenty-sixth Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages. Amsterdam, New York: John Benjamins. 35-52.

    López, L. and Austin, J. (1997). Theories of VP structure and the typology of structural case.  Linguistic Analysis. 27:186-219.

    Austin, J., Blume, M., Parkinson, D., Proman, R., Lust, B. and Núñez del Prado, Z. (1997). The status of pro-drop in the Initial State: Results from new analyses of Spanish. In A. Pérez-Leroux and W. Glass (eds.), Contemporary Perspectives on the Acquisition of Spanish. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press, 37-54.

    Austin, J., Blume, M., Parkinson, D., Proman, R., Lust, B. and Núñez del Prado, Z. (1997). The acquisition of Spanish null and overt pronouns: Pragmatic and syntactic factors. In S. Somashekar, K. Yamakoshi , M. Blume and C. Foley (eds.), Papers on language acquisition: Cornell Working Papers in Linguistics 15, 160-177.

    Austin, J., Blume, M., Parkinson, D., Proman, R., Núñez del Prado, Z. and Lust, B. (1996). Current challenges to the parameter-setting paradigm: The pro-drop parameter. In C. Koster & F. Wijnen (eds.), Proceedings of the Groningen Assembly on Language Acquisition 1995. Groningen: Centre for Language and Cognition, 87-97.

    Austin, J. and López, L. (1995). Nominative, absolutive and dative languages. In J. Beckman, (ed.), Proceedings of the Twenty-fifth North Eastern Linguistic Society. Amherst, MA: GLSA, 1-16.


  • Research Initiatives

    Jennifer Austin's new research projects include a longitudinal study of the development of verbal agreement and subject expression in young Spanish/English bilinguals, in collaboration with Liliana Sánchez, Silvia Pérez-Cortés and Gretchen Van de Walle. In another project, she is looking at the acquisition of quantifiers and number words in Spanish-speaking children who are learning English as a second language; this work is being doing in collaboration with Kristen SyrettLiliana Sánchez, Anne Lingwall and Silvia Pérez-Cortés. She is also conducting a study of L1 syntactic attrition in Russian-English bilinguals in collaboration with Olga Boukrina and Crystal Marull.





  • Subjects Taught

    Bilingualism, Language Acquisition, Hispanic Linguistics