Heather Littlefield

Heather Littlefield

Teaching Professor and Director of the Linguistics Program


  • Language Acquisition, Syntactic Categories, Language And Culture, Language Prestige And Power

About Heather Littlefield

Prof. Littlefield earned her MA and PhD in Applied Linguistics at Boston University, with special interest in first language acquisition of prepositions and the syntactic properties of lexical and functional categories. She currently enjoys teaching a wide range of courses, such as language acquisition, language and culture, history of English, and the Research Seminar in Linguistics. One of her favorite courses is Topics in Linguistics, where she explores various subjects in the field with students, most recently offering a course on Pidgins and Creoles.

Prof. Littlefield is also active in the Honors Program, where she teaches a number of courses especially designed for honors students, including a freshman inquiry course which uses literature as a springboard to investigate a variety of topics in linguistics, including discourse structure, dialect prestige, constructed languages, and language acquisition. Most recently, she designed and offered an upper-level course for Honors students, “Language and power: Linguistic diversity, discrimination and language identity as a human right”.

Her commitment to students extends to working with students outside of the classroom as well, and she has mentored numerous student-developed research projects, including over 30 independent research projects and over 20 undergraduate Honors Projects in Linguistics in a range of topics. She walks students through all stages of research development, from establishing a working hypothesis and a sound methodology, to analyzing the data and presenting the results orally and in writing. Many of her students working on the year-long Honors Projects are encouraged to apply for and are awarded funding to support their work, and most go on to present their findings at various venues, such as Northeastern’s Research, Innovation, Scholarship and Entrepreneurial (RISE) Expo, well as at undergraduate and professional conferences in linguistics. Her interest in developing student research led her to found the biannual Research in Linguistics Poster Session, which allows over 100 students each year to polish their presentation skills as they share the results of their research, whether developed in the context of a course or independently with a faculty mentor, with the wider Northeastern community.

Prof. Littlefield’s excellence in teaching and her commitment to her students’ professional development has been recognized at the university, where she was awarded the John Portz Faculty Excellence Award by the Honors Program, voted a “Northeastern Favorite Faculty” in the Cauldron Yearbook, and nominated by students five times for the highly competitive university-wide Teaching Excellence Award.


Mailing Address:

545 NI (Nightingale Hall), Boston, MA 02115

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