María Luisa Parra Velasco

María Luisa Parra Velasco

Ph.D. in Hispanics Linguistics. Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard

Dr. María Luisa Parra has a B.A. in Psychology, a Ph.D. in Hispanics Linguistics and fifteen years of experience in the fields of Second Language Acquisition and Child Bilingual Development. She has taught Spanish Language and Culture at Boston University and in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard. Her research interests include Spanish as a heritage language and Pedagogy, Second Language Acquisition and Pedagogy; Child Language Development and Bilingualism; Latino Families and Immigration; Immigration and Education.

She also has broad experience working closely with immigrant families and children. She was coordinator of the Home-School Connection Program at the Elliot-Pearson Department of Child Development at Tufts University where she looked at the various ways in which parents and teachers supported transitions, school adaptation and academic success. In 2008 she continued and expanded her work as a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford University School of Education working with Mexican and African American children attending East Palo Alto public schools. Based on an ecological theoretical model, Dr. Parra's work focuses on how parents and teachers impact bilingual development through daily interactions.

A native Spanish speaker from Mexico City, and a mother of two bilingual and bicultural teen age boys, Dr. Parra has always been fascinated by the complexities and joys of bilingual development. She enjoys working with parents, teachers and pediatricians in training who seek to understand and enhance the road to multilingualism.


  • Parra, M.L. (2016) Pedagogía distintiva para la enseñanza del español como lengua heredada en los Estados Unidos. Camino Real. Instituto Franklin. No. 11.

  • Parra Velasco, M.L. (2013). “Exploring Individual Differences among Spanish Heritage Learners: Implications for TA Training and Program Development.” In Individual Differences, L2 Development & Language Program Administration: From Theory to Application. Eds. Cristina Sanz and Béatriz Lado. Boston: Cengage.

  • Parra Velasco, M.L. (2013). Expanding language and cultural competence in advanced heritage- and foreign-language learners through community engagement and work with the arts. Heritage Language Journal 10(2), 115-142.


  • Parra, M.L. (Forthcoming 2016). Understanding identity among Spanish heritage learners: An interdisciplinary endeavor. In D. Pascual (Ed.), Advances in Spanish as a Heritage Language. John Benjamins.

  • Parra, M.L. (Forthncoming 2016). Critical Approaches to Heritage Language Instruction: How to Foster Students’ Critical Consciousness. In M. Fairclough y S. Beaudrie, S. (Eds.),Innovative Approaches in Heritage Language Teaching: From Research to Practice. Washigton, DC: Georgetown University Press.

  • Parra Velasco, M.L. (2015). “Español, Where are you? Encontrando las estrategias narrativas de niños Hispanohablantes en los Estados Unidos.” In Las narrativas y su impacto en el desarrollo lingüístico infantil. El Colegio de México. 

  • Parra, M.L. (2014). Strengthening our teacher community: Consolidating a 'signature pedagogy' for the teaching of Spanish as heritage language. In Rethinking heritage language education. Peter P. Trifonas and Themistoklis Aravossitas (Eds). The Cambridge Education Research Series. Cambridge University Press. (2014): 213-136.

  • Parra Velasco, M.L. (2012). Diversidad cultural y educaión en los Estados Unidos: el caso de la población infantil latina. En Z. Monroy Nasr, R. León-Sánchez y G. Alvarez Díaz de León (Eds.), Enseñanza de la ciencia (pp. 413-426). Facultad de Psicología. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.