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Luis Gaytán-Soto

Profile picture for Luis Gaytán-Soto

Contact Information

Office #4024-Foreign Languages Building
Teaching Assistant


Luis David Gaytán-Soto is a 1st generation Mexican-American graduate student who was born in Southern California but lived in Villa de Alvarez, Colima, Mexico, between the ages of 7 and 11. As a McNair Scholar, Luis graduated from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (CPP) majoring in Spanish with minors in history and philosophy. That same year, Luis joined UIUC to pursue graduate studies in Hispanic Linguistics. As a first generation student, Luis is aware the impact that being a first gen student has on ones self. Navigating higher education can be daunting and confusing. As a result, Luis is dedicated to giving back to his community and students. Hence, Luis has served as a mentor to 4 students from his alma mater, 1 from UCLA, and 1 from UIUC. In his spare time he enjoys playing the diatonic accordion.  

Research Interests

  • Heritage and Second Language Acquisition
  • Dual-Language Immersion Programs
  • Spanish in the U.S. and bilingualism 
  • Heritage language development and assessment 
  • Cognitive processes in language learning
  • Heritage classroom instruction and literacy development
  • Instructed language learning and language curriculum development


  • M.A. (In Progress) in Hispanic Linguistics, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)
  • B.A. (Cum Laude) in Spanish Linguistics and Literature with minors in History and Philosophy. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (CPP), 2018-2022

Awards and Honors

  • Fellowships
  • Career Exploration Fellowship: $5,000
  • Summer FLAS Fellowship: $7,500
  • Teach For America IGNITE Fellowship: $2,200
  • Chancellors Doctoral Incentive Program Fellow (California State University System) 
  • ASPIRE Illinois Masters Fellowship (UIUC): $20,000
  • Summer Pre-Doctoral Institute Summer Research Fellowship (UIUC): $4,500
  • Scholarships
  • NAACP Scholarship: $5,000
  • Latino Faculty Staff Student Association Leadership Scholarship (CPP): $1,000
  • Stipend(s)
  • FLAS Travel Stipend | The U.S. Department of Education   $1,100

Courses Taught

  • LLS 100: Intro to Latina/Latino Studies (Spring 2024)
  • SPAN 141: Introduction to Spanish Grammar (Fall 2023)
  • LAS 292: Global Perspectives in Cross-Cultural Contexts (Spring 2023)
  • LAS 291: Global Perspectives for Inter-Cultural Learning (Fall 2022)

Recent Publications

Llombart-Huesca, A., Gaytán-Soto, L. (In Press). “Spanish Heritage Language Learners: Reading difficulties and spelling errors”. Spanish as a Heritage Language Journal