Christine Shea

Title & Affiliation
Senior Research Fellow Social and Education Policy Research Program
Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies Departments of Linguistics and Spanish and Portuguese
Department of Linguistics DeLTA Center


  • PhD, University of Calgary
  • MA, National Autonomous University of Mexico

Christine Shea is a linguist who focuses on issues related to bilingualism and language acquisition. Dr. Shea's PPC project focuses on the role of educational policy in the education of Spanish heritage speaker high schoolers in Iowa. Heritage speakers are come from families where a language other than English is spoken and their bilingualism is distinct from that of second language learners of Spanish or Spanish speakers who were raised in monolingual Spanish-speaking environments. As a consequence, heritage speakers’ linguistic knowledge is often viewed from a racialized, deficiency-oriented perspective that dismisses their bilingualism as incomplete or incorrect (Fuller & Leeman, 2020). Despite their growing numbers, high school heritage Spanish speakers have not, as of yet, received sustained and coherent attention in terms of programming and policy. Together with Dr. David Johnson (Associate Professor, College of Education), Melanie Carbine (PhD, Foreign Language Education) and Diana Camberos (MA, Spanish Linguistics), Dr. Shea will work on an analysis of state education officials, local school administrators and Spanish teachers’ attitudes and ideologies regarding how bilingual Spanish-English Iowans are encouraged to maintain their heritage, or home language, through policy decisions at the state, district and school levels. Through this project, Dr. Shea and Dr. Johnson will produce a state-wide survey to determine what type of Spanish programs currently exist for Iowa’s Spanish heritage-speaker high schoolers and the policy decisions underlying these programs, with the eventual goal of creating a policy brief for the Iowa Department of Education and Area Education Agencies focused on the current state of Spanish heritage language education and best practices moving forward. 

Research Interests

  • Speech perception and production in multilingual learners