Spanish and Portuguese ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-8-2022


This Dissertation attempted to determine the types and number of discourse markers (DMs) used in narrations written by Spanish Heritage Language (SHL) learners and if they benefitted from the following pedagogical intervention (i.e., Explicit Instruction + Input Flood + Textual Enhancement) regarding the use of DMs. It also calculated the syntactic complexity, morphosyntactic accuracy, and fluency of their narrations. For this study, 39 SHL learners served as participants: 19 in an Experimental group and 20 in a Control group. All participants wrote two narrations of two short, silent films: a pre-test narration and an immediate post-test narration. Before completing the second narration, the Experimental group watched a video on the uses of DMs while reviewing a sample narration that incorporated implicit instruction strategies.

A total of 600 DMs were extracted from the pre- and post-test narrations; results indicated that participants resorted to using the same set of DMs: pero, cuando, luego, entonces, and porque. Results also showed that six participants in the Experimental group incorporated less-familiar, complex (i.e., two- to three-word) DMs in their post-intervention narrations; these DMs were explicitly mentioned and used in the pedagogical intervention. This use of less-familiar DMs suggests that Explicit and Implicit Instruction promote the use of DMs in SHL writing. Lastly, the analysis of the data collected for this Dissertation indicated that Early and Late SHL learners did not differ regarding syntactic complexity and fluency, but they did differ regarding morphosyntactic accuracy. Nevertheless, both groups produced preposition and vocabulary errors at a similar rate.

Degree Name

Spanish & Portuguese (PhD)

Level of Degree


Department Name

Spanish and Portuguese

First Committee Member (Chair)

Eva Rodriguez-Gonzalez

Second Committee Member

Cristyn Elder

Third Committee Member

Jose Esteban Hernandez

Fourth Committee Member

Todd Hernandez




Spanish as a Heritage language, writing, discourse markers, pedagogical intervention, syntactic complexity, morphosyntactic accuracy

Document Type