Tania Leal, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Spanish
Headshot of Tania Leal


Tania Leal is an assistant professor of Spanish (linguistics). Leal received her Ph.D. in second language acquisition with a specialization in linguistics from the University of Iowa. Her research centers on the acquisition and comprehension of syntax and morphology and is purposefully interdisciplinary, incorporating elements from applied linguistics and psycholinguistics. She is particularly interested in real-time language comprehension and in advancing the characterization of the underlying linguistic knowledge of second language learners and heritage speakers. She is also keenly interested in the current methodological and epistemological issues that have arisen in the field as a by-product of conducting research that integrates different approaches. Her dissertation work, aided by an NSF grant, examined language acquisition from the perspective of individual differences in order to explore how linguistic experience, anticipatory language processing, and statistical learning abilities influence the way speakers comprehend and interpret linguistic structures in real time. 
Her current research investigates how second language learners and heritage speakers acquire and process morpho-syntactic phenomena and properties that involve the syntax-pragmatics interface. She is also currently investigating the acquisition and processing of (sociolinguistically) variable structures in Spanish with Kimberly Geeslin. Her work has appeared in journals such as Studies in Second Language Acquisition, Lingua, Language Acquisition, Applied Linguistics and the International Journal of Bilingualism.

In addition to teaching at the University, Leal has taught at the University of Iowa and Indiana University, where she was a postdoctoral research scholar in the department of Spanish and Portuguese.


  • Ph.D., Second Language Acquisition with a specialization in Linguistics, University of Iowa