Elaine Tarone


Elaine Tarone is Distinguished Teaching Professor Emerita at the University of Minnesota. Until her retirement, she taught graduate courses in Second Language Education, and was Director of CARLA, the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition, a USDE Title VI Language Resource Center housed in the U of MN Global Programs and Strategy Alliance.  She continues to do research on second-language acquisition, conduct workshops for language teachers as requested, and volunteer for nonprofits in St. Paul. 

Between 1979-2016, Dr. Tarone taught students in the M.A. TESOL program of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota. Past editor of the refereed journal Applied Linguistics, past president of the American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL) (and chair of its first independent conference in 1991), she has published research on second language acquisition (SLA) since 1972. She published early research on interlanguage phonology (Tarone 1972) and on the strategic competence of second language learners (Tarone 1978), but a major theme of her work has been the empirical documentation of sociolinguistic variation in learner language and the exploration of its theoretical implications (Tarone 1979, 1985, 2000, 2010). Her 2009 book Literacy and Second Language Oracy, with Martha Bigelow and Kit Hansen, documents the impact of alphabetic print literacy on oral second language processing. Both her 2009 book with Bonnie Swierzbin, Exploring Learner Language, and her USDE Title VI IRSP grant-funded project use video and interactive activities to help teachers of ESL, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Persian better understand the nature and development of learner language in their own classrooms.
With ZhaoHong Han, she co-edited Interlanguage: 40 years later (2014), a collection of contributions by leading researchers exploring the multidimensional impact of this seminal theoretical construct on research in second language acquisition.

Educational Background
  • Ph.D. and M.A.: Speech Science, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, 1970, 1972.
  • Diploma: Applied Linguistics, Edinburgh University, Scotland, 1969.
  • Secondary Teaching License (Lifetime): English, Spanish, University of California, Berkeley, 1967.
  • B.A. (Phi Beta Kappa): English, Spanish, University of California, Berkeley, 1966.


  • 50 at 50 Award, Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), 2016
  • Distinguished Scholarship and Service Award, American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL), 2012
  • TESOL/Heinle Distinguished Research Award, 2007
  • Award for Outstanding Contributions to Graduate and Professional Education, University of Minnesota, 2000
  • College of Liberal Arts Distinguished Teaching Award, University of Minnesota, 1982