Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication

Cognitive Approaches to Second Language Acquisition



ACLC staff: Folkert Kuiken; Sible Andringa; Catherine van Beuningen; Arjen Florijn; Rob Schoonen; Ineke Vedder


ACLC PhD: Sylvia Bacchini; Marjolein Cremer; Klaartje Duijm; Carmen Lie-Lahuerta; Elisabetta Materassi; Tessa Spätgens; Margarita Steinel;  Lissan Taal-Apelqvist; Mirjam Trapman; Camille Welie; Roos van der Zwaard

External: Aartje van Dijk; Jelske Dijkstra; Elisabeth van der Linden; Nomi Olsthoorn; Wilma van der Westen



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

Accessibility of semantic networks in the mental lexicon of Dutch L1 and L2 children.

The activation of word meaning in the mental lexicon is crucial for reading comprehension: what word association, semantic priming and reading tasks tell us. Contact M. Cremer for more information.

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

This project investigates some factors (language education, teacher, student) that have an influence on the language proficiency of secondary school students. Contact C. Welie for more information.

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

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

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.

Studies in Listening Proficiency (Stilis).

This study seeks to explain individual differences in listening proficiency of young and old native and non-native speakers. See the homepages of S. Andringa, C. van Beuningen and J. Hulstijn for more information.

The bilingual language development of the young Frisian child.

The aim of this PhD-project is to investigate the development of a bilingual vocabulary and morphosyntax in both Frisian and Dutch children 2;6 to 4;0 years of age. Contact J. Dijkstra for more information.

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 ( 

First aid by second language.

Research into an effective method for increasing vocabulary amongst young second-language learners. For more information, contact S. Bacchini (

Language proficiency in native and non-native speakers: Theory, research and measurement.

Jan Hulstijn's book project. 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). Contact J. Hulstijn for more information.

What is Speaking Proficiency (WiSP).

The goal of research-project WiSP (What is Speaking Proficiency) is to investigate the componential structure of second-language speaking proficiency. See the homepages of M. Steinel, R. Schoonen and J. Hulstijn and the WiSP pdf below for more information.

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

24 April 2014