Gita Martohardjono

Headshot: Gita Martohardjono

Research Interests

  • Second language acquisition, bilingualism and biliteracy, "heritage" and minority language studies


  • Ph.D., Cornell University

Gita Martohardjono’s research focuses on the development of syntax, semantics and phonology in adult second language acquisition and bilingualism. Her projects investigate the acquisition of gap structures, such as wh-questions, relative clauses, control structures and null pronouns in bilingual adults and children from a cross-linguistic perspective. In the area of semantics, her research investigates the acquisition of temporal and aspectual markers by child and adult bilinguals. In phonology, her work centers on the role of L1 phonotactics as a potential source of interference in L2 acquisition. A variety of languages have been examined, including Italian, Spanish, Indonesian, Chinese, Korean and Japanese. Recent projects investigate non-standard varieties of Italian and Spanish, as spoken by “heritage” speakers, and include the use of electrophysiology (ERP). A second research area is the development of literacy in emergent bilinguals. Since 2004, she has conducted research on immigrant students with low literacy in the native language, and has been a leader in the construction of academic language and literacy assessments benefiting this population. She is currently PI on several externally funded projects creating multilingual, online assessments for use in NY public schools.

Research Projects

Research projects in the Second Language Acquisition Lab:

  • First and Second Generation Bilinguals: an ERP study
  • Eye-tracking and Pupillometry in Second Language Acquisition and Bilingualism
  • The Development of Language and Literacy in Bilingual Students with low Native Language Literacy
  • (In)definiteness in Second Language Acquisition

Ph.D. dissertations supervised

  1. Singhapreecha, Pornsiri (1999). The Acquisition of Case, Tense, and Agreement Features: A Study of Thai Learners of English.
  2. Pelc, Linda (2001). L1 lexical, morphology and morphosyntactic attrition in Greek-English bilinguals
  3. August, Gail (2001). The road to second language reading: How do we get there?
  4. Kessler, Kathy (2003)
. ERP correlates of word order and morphosyntactic phenomena in adult native speakers and second language learners of English.
  5. Gabriele, Alison (2005). The acquisition of aspect in a second language: A bidirectional study of learners of English and Japanese.
  6. Szupica-Pyrzanowski, Malgorzata (2009). Morphological and phonological contributions to the production of verbal inflection in adult L2 learners and patients with agrammatic aphasia.
  7. Chi-Chen Bredeche (2011). The Use of -LE by L1 Chinese Speakers and the Acquisition of -LE in L2 Chinese.
  8. Garrison-Fletcher, Leigh (2012). The Acquisition of L2 Reading Comprehension: The Relative Contribution of Linguistic Knowledge and Existing Reading Ability Learners.
  9. Bonner, Timothy (2013).  The Influence of “Extra-Syntactic” Factors on Second Language Inflections: A Systematic Study of L2 Inflectional Variability in Mandarin Second Language Learners of English.
  10.  Chan, Lionel (2013). Heritage Speakers’ Acquisition of Clitic Placement in Standard Italian.
  11. Nagano, Marisa (2015).  Interpretation of Overt Pronouns In L1 and L2 Japanese
  12. McSweeney, Michelle (2016). Literacies of Bilingual Youth: A profile of bilingual academic, social, and txt literacies.
  13. Cho, Euna (2017). Effects of multimedia instruction on L2 acquisition of high-level, low-frequency English vocabulary words
  14. Heidrick, Ingrid (2017) First and Second Generation NYC bilinguals: What is the role of input in their collocational knowledge of English and Spanish?
  15.  von Wertz, Sloane (2017) Is It All Relative? Relative Pitch and L2 Lexical Tone Perception/Tone Language Comprehension by Adult Tone and Non-Tone Language Speakers 
  16. Maayan Barkan (2018) The Pragmatic Strategy of Main-Clause Omission in Japanese: Its Contrast with Hebrew, and Its Learnability
  17. Jennifer Hamano (2018) Mandarin Assessment in Chinese-English Bilingual Pre-Schoolers
  18. Christen Madsen (2018). Decentering the Monolingual: A psychophysiological study of heritage speaker language processing
  19. Ian Phillips (2018). Syntactic Processing and Cross-Linguistic Structural Priming in Heritage Spanish Speakers and Late Bilinguals: Effects of Exposure to L2 English on Processing Illicit Structures in L1 Spanish

Courses Taught

  • Second Language Acquisition and Bilingualism
  • Seminars in Linguistics: Neurolinguistic Studies of Sentence Processing and Bilingualism
  • Research Methods in 2nd Language Acquisition