Lily Wong Fillmore

Lilly Wong Fillmore (born 1934) is an American linguist. She is Professor Emerita in the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research has focused on second language learning and teaching and on education in language minority communities.[1][2]

Lily Wong Fillmore
Born1934 (age 8485)
Occupationprofessor, linguist
Spouse(s)Charles J. Fillmore
Academic background
Alma materStanford University
ThesisThe second time around: Cognitive and social strategies in second language acquisition (1976)
Academic work
Sub-disciplineSecond language acquisition


Wong Fillmore was born in Northern California, the child of immigrant Chinese parents, and grew up in Watsonville, California. She attributes her interest in second language education to her own experience of starting school not knowing any English, in a community with many immigrants.[3]

Wong Fillmore earned her PhD in linguistics from Stanford University in 1976 with a dissertation entitled, "The Second Time Around: Cognitive and social strategies in second language acquisition".[4] In 1974, she became assistant dean for student affairs at UC-Berkeley's Graduate School of Education. She began teaching there as an assistant professor two years later and spent her entire career at UC-Berkeley, attaining the position of Jerome A. Hutto Professor of Education before her retirement in 2004.[3]

Wong Fillmore has worked on issues related to education of language minority children in the US since the 1950s, when she was a volunteer teacher in a California migrant labor camp. She has conducted several large-scale research projects investigating how children of Asian or Latino background adjust, both linguistically and academically, to the US public school classroom environment.[5] Her research has made contributions to several areas related to bilingualism and second language learning: the identification of cognitive and social strategies that children use in acquiring a second language (the topic of her dissertation); sources of variation in second language acquisition (Wong Fillmore 1979, 1983); and the influence of social context and teaching practices on second language acquisition (Wong Fillmore 1985a, b; 1989a, b).

Wong Fillmore was married to the American linguist, Charles Fillmore.[6]

Selected publications

Lily Wong Fillmore. 1979. Individual Differences in Second Language Acquisition. In Individual Differences in Language Ability and Language Behavior. Academic Press, pp. 203–228.

Lily Wong Fillmore. 1983. The Language Learner as an Individual. In M. Clarke and J. Handscombe, Eds. Pacific Perspectives on Language Learning and Teaching. Washington, D.C.: TESOL.

Lily Wong Fillmore. 1985a. When Does Teacher Talk Work as Input? In S. Gass and C. Madden, Eds. Input in Second Language Acquisition.Rowley, MA: Newbury House.

Lily Wong Fillmore, P. Ammon, B. McLaughlin and M. S. Ammon 1985b. Language Learning through Bilingual Instruction, Final Report to the National Institute of Education. University of California, Berkeley.

Lily Wong Fillmore. 1989a. Language Learning in Social Context: The View from Research in Second Language learning. In R. Dietrich and C. Graumann, Eds. Language Processing in Social Context, Amsterdam: Elsevier Science Publishers.

Lily Wong Fillmore. 1989b. Teachability and Second Language Acquisition. In R. Schiefelbusch & M. Rice, Eds. The Teachability of Language. Baltimore, MD: Paul Brookes.

Lily Wong Fillmore. 1991. When learning a second language means losing the first. Early Childhood Research Quarterly 6, 323-346.

Lily Wong Fillmore and Catherine E. Snow. 2000. What Teachers Need To Know about Language.[7] Washington, DC: Center for Applied Research.


  1. "Lily Wong Fillmore | Research UC Berkeley". Retrieved 2018-08-18.
  2. "Google Scholar". Retrieved 2018-08-18.
  3. McField, Grace P. (2008), "Wong Fillmore, Lily (1934-)", Encyclopedia of Bilingual Education, SAGE Publications, Inc., pp. 907–908, doi:10.4135/9781412963985.n344, retrieved 2018-08-18
  4. "Ph.D. Alumni | Department of Linguistics". Retrieved 2018-08-18.
  5. "Lily Wong Fillmore | Research UC Berkeley". Retrieved 2018-08-19.
  6. "In love with LANGUAGE / No 'ivory tower' educator, feisty UC Berkeley linguistics expert got her start teaching migrant workers' children". SFGate. 2004-07-18. Retrieved 2018-08-18.
  7. Wong Fillmore. "What Teachers Need To Know about Language" (PDF).
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