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  • Students from Dr. Otten's Lab

Janet Oh

Janet Oh
Associate Professor
(818) 677-3548
Office location:
ST 331



  • Ph.D. University of California, Los Angeles
  • M.A. University of California, Los Angeles 
  • B.A. Pomona College

Specialty Areas: Language development.Bilingualism Heritage language loss and maintenance. Language and cultural identity.

Courses Taught

  • PSY 313/L -  Developmental Psychology
  • PSY 462 - Language Development
  • PSY 495RC - Community Research Seminar 
  • PSY 495XC - Community Research Seminar II

Selected Publications and Presentations

Au, T. K., Knightly, L. M., Jun, S.-A., & Oh, J. S.  (2002).  Overhearing a language during childhood.  Psychological Science, 13, 238-243.

Knightly, L. M., Jun, S.-A., Oh, J. S., & Au, T. K.  (2003).  Production benefits of childhoo overhearing.  Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 114(1), 465-474.

Oh, J. S., Jun, S.-A., Knightly, L. M., & Au, T. K.  (2003).  Holding on to childhood language memory.  Cognition, 86(3), B53-B64.

Oh, J. S. & Au, T. K.  (2005).  Learning Spanish as a heritage language:  The role of sociocultural background variables.  Language, Culture and Curriculum, 18(3), 229-241.

Au, T. K., Oh, J. S., Knightly, L. M., Jun, S.-A., & Romo, L. F.  (2008).  Salvaging a Childhood Language.  Journal of Memory and Language, 58, 998-1011.

Oh, J. S. & Fuligni, A. J.  (in press).  The Role of Heritage Language Development in the Ethnic Identity and Family Relationships of Adolescents from Immigrant Backgrounds.  Social Development.

Research Interests

My research interests center around the development and experiences of linguistic minority populations in predominantly monolingual environments such as the U.S. These children and adults come from cultural backgrounds in which a heritage language (a language other than the mainstream or dominant language) is spoken. I am particularly interested in the following aspects of linguistic minority experiences:

Heritage Language Development, Maintenance, and Loss: Linguistic minority children often grow up speaking a heritage language at home while learning the mainstream language at school. One of my research interests is in better understanding linguistic minority children's bilingual language development; in particular, how the two languages develop in relation to one another, especially as children become exposed to the mainstream language in school. I am also working to identify the factors that are related to heritage language maintenance and loss in linguistic minority children and adolescents. Moreover, given the nearly inevitable loss of heritage languages among immigrant-background children in the U.S., I have also been studying the consequences of heritage language loss, especially for family relationships, cultural identity, and psychological well-being in linguistic minority adolescents and college students.

Adult Heritage Language Learners: As a result of the rapid loss of heritage languages, many linguistic minority adults find themselves with limited or no heritage language proficiency. Some decide to take language courses in their heritage language as adults.  I have been investigating how early experience with a language, even when limited to the early childhood years, may help the adult language learner. In particular, we have been studying whether, and how, these adults can later access their memory for a childhood language to help them (re)learn the language as adults. We have investigated these questions in adults from immigrant backgrounds, as well as adults who were adopted from Korea to the U.S. into monolingual-English speaking homes as young children. We are now extending this line of research to look at how other background variables play a part in the success of adult heritage language learners. I have been studying the role of sociocultural variables such a feeling of belonging to the heritage culture and motivation to learn the language in the success of adult heritage language learners, in order to eventually develop a sociocultural model of heritage language learning.