Cognitive Approaches to Second Language Acquisition



ACLC staff: Sible Andringa; Jan Hulstijn; Folkert Kuiken; Alla Peeters-Podgaevskaja; Ineke Vedder

ACLC PhD candidates: Imogen Cohen;  Aartje van Dijk; Pauline Koeleman;  Elisabetta Materassi; Hanneke Pot; Patrick Schetters; Tessa Spätgens; Margarita Steinel;  Lissan Taal-Apelqvist; Wilma van der Westen

PhD candidate UvA Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Developmental Psychology: Leona Niheyra

External staff:  Rob Schoonen


The CASLA research group studies the acquisition and use of a second language with respect to the interplay between (1) the representation and processing of information in various linguistic domains, (2) relevant human attributes (such as proficiency in the first language, age, level of education, and working memory capacity), and (3) task constraints (e.g., in pedagogic tasks). Each year, CASLA publishes a summary on the year’s research and publications. See attachments below.


Current research projects

Academic language proficiency and academic achievement in higher education

The project focuses on the relation between language skills and academic achievement. The results will give universities an insight into the accurate detection of necessary academic language skills to eventually improve students’ academic success rate. Contact F. Kuiken and I. Vedder for more information.

Accuracy in the written production of advanced Dutch as a foreign language learners with German L1

On the basis of a thorough error analysis didactic measures will be formulated in order to remediate advanced learner language production. Under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Elvira Glaser (Universität Zürich) and Prof. Dr. Folkert Kuiken (Universiteit van Amsterdam). Contact Patrick Schetters for more information

Advanced language acquisition: reading proficiency and vocabulary knowledge of secondary school students

In this project it is investigated to what extent individual differences in readers’ language backgrounds and their cognitive and motivational make-ups are related to differences in their understanding of school book texts. Contact C. Welie for more information.

Acquisition order of Russian morphemes in Dutch-Russian children

Research investigates an acquisition order of basic features of Russian nominal and verbal morphology in bilingual children as compared to Russian-speaking monolinguals. This study explores children's oral and written skills and seeks answers to the questions of whether the acquisition order of morphemes in Russian as L1 and L2 is the same, and to what extent young bilinguals lag behind their monolingual peers in acquiring the basics of Russian grammar. Contact A.V. Peeters-Podgaevskaja for more information.

Developing semantic networks and language proficiency of Dutch L1 and L2 children

In this study the relation between deep word knowledge (specifically knowledge of semantic relations between words) and reading comprehension is investigated in L1 and L2 children. Contact T. Spätgens for more information.

Input and instruction in second language acquisition

A line of research that addresses how properties of the input affect second language acquisition. The overall goal is to learn how input should be designed to optimally facilitate learning. Contact S. Andringa for more information.

Interplay between learner, language, and input characteristics in second language acquisition

Through a series of language learning experiments, the project investigates relation between aptitude and language learning outcomes in adult second language learners. It also focuses on how input characteristics (i.e. reliable vs. unreliable input with exceptions) influence learning outcomes and if aptitude involvement differs for different input types. Contact M. Curcic for more information.  

Language proficiency in native and non-native speakers: Theory and research

In 2015, Jan Hulstijn published a book with John Benjamins Publication Company under the title Language proficiency in native and non-native speakers: Theory and research. The purpose of this book is to show how important the notion of language proficiency (also called ‘language cognition’ and ‘language ability’) is for theories of L1 acquisition, L2 acquisition and bilingualism, and to show to applied linguists, especially those in the field of L2 testing and teaching, that the notion of language proficiency should be seen as relevant not only for L2 learners (nonnative speakers) but also for L1 users (native speakers). Currently, Jan Hulstijn is working on various small projects aimed at investigating empirically how small or large Basic Language Cognition (the knowledge of a language shared by all adult native speakers) is in various languages. Contact J. Hulstijn for more information.

Learning by doing: first words in second language

Research to examine effects on vocabulary growth of young second-language learners via task based instructional techniques ('Total Physical Response' ), either hands-on or through an iPad application. For more information, contact H. Pot (

Linguistic correlates of functional adequacy of L2 speaking: the role of level of proficiency and L1 transfer.

This study explores the relationship between command of linguistic features (word order and verb frames) and progress in terms of discrete steps on a scale of functional adequacy of L2 speaking proficiency for two groups of L2 learners whose language backgrounds were markedly different. For further information, please contact M. Steinel

Literacy-related attributes of at-risk students in grades 7-9

An investigation into the development of reading and writing in Dutch by native and non-native at-risk students in grades 7-9. Contact M. Trapman for more information.

Metaphor in academic discourse: a study of metaphoric language and L2 learning.

The goal of the project is to uncover how advanced L2 speakers learn to process and use metaphoric language in academic discourse. Contact E. Materassi for more information.

Needs analysis for language course design in higher education

This needs analysis identifies professional language influenced by various contextual factors, such as knowledge of the institutions and knowledge of the professional communities in which the language is used. For more information please contact Pauline Koeleman

The Construct of Functional Adequacy in L2 (COFA).

A study of the construct of functional adequacy as a component of second-language proficiency. Contact I. Vedder and F. Kuiken for more information.

The Effect of Technology on Task-Based Interaction: Negotiation of Meaning in Synchronous Computer-Mediated Communication.

This study examines negotiation of meaning during interaction in the second language-classroom via two forms of synchronous computer-mediated communication: videoconferencing and instant chat-messaging. Contact R. van der Zwaard for more information.

The student language competent

Research into the role of language learning strategies in improving language proficiency of higher professional education students during educational settings which do not have the learning of language as a primary goal. For more information, contact W. van der Westen ( 

Writing to learn and genre pedagogy.

This experimental study examines genre pedagogy as a means to teach writing to learn in biology teacher training and in mathematics teacher training. Next it examines how students who attended the experimental class, apply the pedagogy in their internships in secondary schools. For more information please contact A. van Dijk.


Completed PhD projects


The CASLA group meets weekly to discuss research and events in the field of second language acquisition. The public is welcome to attend the CASLA meetings and/or present (provided the topic is of relevance to the group). CASLA-related events of interest to the public are announced on the ACLC’s Events page. For more information, please contact the group’s coordinator.

Published by  ACLC

11 June 2018