Skip to Navigation Skip to Content
College of Arts and Letters | Michigan State University

Patti Spinner


B258 Wells Hall, 619 Red Cedar Road 
East Lansing, MI 48824-1027 
Phone: 517-353-0754 
Fax: 517-432-1149 

Patti Spinner received her Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Pittsburgh in 2007, and also has an M.A. in German from the Ohio State University. She has taught German as a foreign language at the Ohio State University and Kenyon College, and ESL at the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Rostock (Germany), and Inlingua Language Schools (Germany). She has also developed music-based lessons for ESL grammar instruction, including Betty Azar's English Grammar series and L-Pop:  Real Music for English Language Learning.

Research Interests

Dr. Spinner's primary research interests are in the second language acquisition of morphosyntax from a formal perspective, particularly the acquisition of features such as grammatical gender, case, number, and tense. Currently she is investigating the acquisition of gender and number in L2 Swahili. Another project examines Italian gender and number using eye-tracking measures. Other research interests include morphosyntactic measures of L2 language development and the use of music in the instruction of L2 grammar. Her work has appeared in journals such as Studies in Second Language Acquisition, Second Language Research, Applied Linguistics, and Language Learning.


Spinner, P. & Gass, S. (2015).  SLA and linguistics:  A bidirectional perspective. Linguistics Vanguard. ISSN (Online) 2199-174X

Patti Spinner & Jamie Thomas. (2014). Morphophonological and semantic cues in the L2 acquisition of Swahili gender. International Review of Applied Linguistics 52.

Spinner, P., Gass, S., & Behney, J. (2013). Coming eye-to-eye with noticing. In J. M. Bergsleithner, S. N. Frota, & J. K. Yoshioka, (Eds.), Noticing and second language acquisition: Studies in honor of Richard Schmidt (pp. 235–254). Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i, National Foreign Language Resource Center.

Spinner, P. (2013). Language production and reception:  A processability theory study.  Language Learning, 63, 704-739.

Patti Spinner (2013). The L2 acquisition of number and gender in Swahili:  A feature reassembly approach.  Second Language Research, 29, 455–479.

Patti Spinner, Susan Gass & Jennifer Behney (2013). Ecological validity in eye-tracking research:  An empirical study.  Studies in Second Language Acquisition 35, 389-415.

Grace Amuzie & Patti Spinner. (2013). The L2 acquisition of articles with abstract nouns. Applied Linguistics 34, 415-434.

Patti Spinner (2011). Second language assessment and morphosyntactic development. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 33: 529-561. 

Patti Spinner (2011). Second language research in Bantu languages: A (mostly) untapped research opportunity. Review article. Second Language Research 27: 418-430. 

John Grinstead & Patti Spinner (2009). Subjects, topicalizations and Wh-questions in child German and Southern Romance. Probus 21, 51-82. 

Patti Spinner & Alan Juffs (2008). The L2 acquisition of gender in a complex morphological system: The case of German. IRAL, the International Review of Applied Linguistics 46, 315-348. 

Patti Spinner. (2007).  ESL Song Lessons. Azar Grammar Series, Basic, Intermediate and Advanced. New York: Pearson Longman.

Recent Presentations

Foote, R., Spinner, P. & Upor, R. (2014, October).  Morphological decomposition in second language Swahili.  Second Language Research Forum.  Columbia:  University of South Carolina.

Spinner, P. & Jung, S. (2014, October).  Processability Theory and reception data: A self-paced reading study.  Second Language Research Forum.  Columbia:  University of South Carolina.

Spinner, P. & Jung, S. (2014, October). Processability Theory and the procedural skills hypothesis.  Bilingualism Forum.  Chicago:  University of Illinois at Chicago.

Gonulal, T., Spinner, P. & Winke, P. (2014, April).  The acquisition of the morphosyntax of Turkish.  National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages. Chicago.

Foote, R., Spinner, P. & Upor, Rose. (2014, January). Morphological decomposition in Swahili.  Minneapolis:  Linguistic Society of America.

Spinner, P., Behney, J., & Gass, S. (2013, April). Number and gender in L2 Italian:  Feature detection and reassembly at work?Generative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition.  Gainesville:  University of Florida.

Spinner, P. (2012, October).  Processability Theory:  Production and reception data.  Second Language Research Forum:  University of Pittsburgh.

Spinner, P., Behney, J. & Gass, S. (2012, September). Gender and number in L2 Italian:  An eye-tracking study. Conference of the European Second Language Association (EuroSLA): Poznan, Poland.

Patti Spinner, Susan Gass, & Jennifer Behney (2011, September). Ecological validity in L2 eyetracking research. Stockholm: EuroSLA. 

Sehoon Jung & Patti Spinner (2011, March). L2 processing of wh-movement in English by adult learners: The effect of L1 and learning environment" University of Washington: GASLA 11. 

Patti Spinner, Susan Gass, & Jennifer Behney. (2010, October). Using the eye-tracker for a morphosyntactic study in SLA. Paper presentation as part of colloquium: Eye-tracking for SLA research: Applications, outcomes, and methodological considerations. 

Patti Spinner, Susan Gass, & Jennifer Behney. (2010, September). The L2 Acquisition of gender in Italian: An eye-tracking study. Paper presented at the European Second Language Association conference, Reggio Emilia, Italy. 

Patti Spinner (2010, March). The second language acquisition of Bantu languages. Paper presented at the American Association of Applied Linguistics (AAAL), Atlanta, GA. 

Patti Spinner. (2009). The detection and assembly of the number feature in L2 Swahili. Boston University Conference on Language Development 34: Boston. 

Patti Spinner & Jamie Thomas (2008). Number and gender in the L2 acquisition of Swahili (2008). Boston University Conference on Language Development 33: Boston. 

Patti Spinner & Jamie Thomas (2008). The L2 acquisition of grammatical gender in Swahili. GALANA 3 (Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition, North America). Storrs: University of Connecticut.