The field of second language (L2) variation, focusing mostly on English and French, has existed for over 30 years, documenting the effects of linguistic context, social context and individual characteristics on learner language. Research on the L2 acquisition of variation in Spanish has experienced tremendous growth over the past decade and currently includes empirical studies of the acquisition of nearly a dozen variable structures based on data elicited using a variety of measures from a range of language learners. The current paper explores this research, noting where the greatest advances have been made and also where additional research would be beneficial. The paper covers a range of variable structures, including the copula contrast, mood selection, verbal subjects and objects, several markers of tense and aspect and several features of the L2 sound system. The acquisition of these structures is an essential component of gaining sociolinguistic competence in a L2.
© 2015 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston