My research interests
I am an applied linguist who specializes in second language acquisition and bilingualism. I investigate the added value of explicit information and instruction for second language learning, how distributional features of the input affect language learning outcomes, and what role awareness plays in language learning trajectories. I also take a keen interest in bi- or multilingual development in educational settings. I value transparency and openness in research and strongly believe that collaboration leads to research of higher methodological rigor and impact.
***Submit your materials to IRIS, or find the materials you need for your research. IRIS is a collection of instruments, materials, stimuli, and data coding and analysis tools used for research into second languages, including second and foreign language learning, multilingualism, language education, language use and processing. Materials are freely accessible and searchable, easy to upload (for contributions) and download (for use).***
The Meta-LLL project: How literacy shapes language learning
Many people learn a language while also developing literacy, the ability to read and write. When becoming literate, people also learn to think about language as an object of thought; they learn that language consists of separate words, that words are comprised of separate sounds, and that sounds can be represented by symbols. Literacy allows people to manipulate and analyze language. There are good theoretical reasons to assume that becoming literate changes how language is acquired. Yet, we know very little about this. This is largely due to the fact that first language acquisition theories are primarily based on work with preliterate infants and young children, while second language acquisition research has not included preliterate learners.
This project aims to increase our understanding of the relationship between literacy, meta-linguistic cognition, and language acquisition by studying emerging readers: adults and children who learn language while simultaneously learning to read. Qualitative, cross-sectional, and longitudinal time series data will be collected in combination with novel techniques for measuring learning outcomes (visual world eye tracking) and awareness (the opt-out paradigm). In doing so, this project aims to show that language learning changes under the influence of emerging literacy because literacy shapes learners’ ability to become aware of the structural properties of spoken language. The outcomes will assign a proper place to awareness and metalinguistic cognition in theories of language learning and improve learning and instruction for many people that face the difficult task of learning a language while learning to read and write.
With: Bart Siekman, Sarah der Nederlanden, Sybren Spit, Josje Verhagen Judith Rispens, Michal Korenar and Yesim Sevinc
The role of input, instruction and awareness in second language learning
I am runnning and have run several studies investigating the role of input instruction and awareness in second language learning. I'm particularly interested in the added value of explicit information and instruction for second language learning; how distributional features of the input affect language learning outcomes; what role awareness plays in the language learning trajectory. In many of these studies, I use the visual world eye-tracking paradigm as a measure of learning.
The OASIS initiative is establishing a systematic and sustainable culture of providing open, accessible summaries of research in the language sciences. The main aim is to address some of the long-attested challenges of communicating research beyond academia. In collaboration with journal editors, professional associations, and language educators, we have developed guidelines for writing Accessible Summaries and we are creating a critical mass of 300 one-page non-technical summaries. We are also working with journal editors to establish procedures for routinely soliciting summaries from their accepted authors. The summaries are searchable and freely available from https://oasis-database.org. We have a large network of collaborators who are writing, editing, and approving summaries in a wide range of research areas, including second and foreign language learning and teaching, multilingualism, language education, and testing. If you wish to participate in the initiative, please contact email@example.com.
With: Emma Marsden and Cylcia Bolibaugh (coordinators); and Inge Alferink; Jess Brown; Laura Collins; Carrie Jackson; Rowena Kasprowicz; David O’Reilly; Luke Plonsky; Louise Shepperd
SLA for all? Reproducing SLA research in non-academic samples
This project is an initiative to gauge the generalizability of SLA research findings through registered replications of SLA studies with non-academic participant samples. Please visit the project website for more information: SLA for all? Reproducing SLA research in non-academic samples
with Aline Godfroid
MIND is short for 'Multilingualism in Daycare'. This project, that started in February 2018 and will run for four years, aims to understand how bilingual daycare affects the development of both languages offered (Dutch and English or French) in young children. The daycare centers and their children will be followed for several years. The project tries to answer a range of questions, subdivided into three subprojects. PhD candidate Kyra Hanekamp investigates how children respond to bilingual daycare and how much input they need to develop the second language. PhD candidate Darlene Keydeniers investigates what bilingual daycare means for the development of Dutch and wants to know if particular aspects of Dutch are subject to crosslinguistic influence. Post-doctoral researcher Josje Verhagen wants to find out how home language and literacy skills affect the development of both Dutch and English or French.
I was involved in the Stilis project (studies in listening proficiency). The goal of this project was to explore and explain individual differences in listening proficiency. This was done by assessing our participants' sentence processing skills and several related skills/capacities we hypothesize to be predictive of or related to listening comprehension. Both young and elderly native speakers of Duch and nonnative learners of Dutch were assessed. The Stilis project is a five-year project that started in August 2007 (with Catherine van Beuningen, Jan Hulstijn, Nomi Olsthoorn and Rob Schoonen) and ended officially in the summer of 2012.
My PhD research project was titled Form-focused instruction and the development of second language proficiency. In the project, I reviewed previous work comparing the effectiveness of explicit and implicit types of instruction, and I assessed experimentally whether explicit instruction was more effective than implicit instruction all else being equal (most notably: exposure to the target structures). I concluded that the evidence for the superiority of explicit instruction is not as overwhelming as sometimes suggested. The data demonstrated that both approaches were equally effective overall. However, for one of the target structures, there was an interaction with first language background. Explicit instruction was more effective than implicit instruction for participants with a resembling structure in the L1, but less effective if the same meaning was expressed by means of a totally different target structure.
Ongoing PhD projects,
In first name alphabetical order
In order of completion
Emergent multilingual children’s peer interactions in Dutch early childhood education and care
Abstract: This project examines the impact of children’s language backgrounds on bilingual children’s peer play in daycare. Do language background and language proficiency influence which children play together, and how they play together? The project will take a multi-faceted and interdisciplinary approach to examine these questions. I will first conduct interviews and surveys with preschool teachers to gain a preliminary understanding of this underresearched topic. After this, two types of observations will be carried out: a quantitative social network analysis and a qualitative study of peer interactions among 3-year-olds in various daycare centres in the Netherlands.
This project is part of Project MIND. Supervision with Josje Verhagen and Folkert Kuiken
How literacy shapes language learning in emergent adult readers (LESLLA-learners)
Abstract: The leading question of my thesis is how the ability of LESLLA-learners, that is: emergent adult readers, to learn a language is shaped by acquiring literacy skills. It is hypothesized that when acquiring literacy skills, metalinguistic abilities will also develop which will be beneficial for language learning. Connections have been found in LESLLA learners between different levels of literacy skills and the ability to uptake information from an orally given recast (Bigelow et al, 2006). Also, Roehr-Brackin & Tellier (2019) found several correlations between metalinguistic awareness measures and L2 proficiency in secondary school students. This thesis will contribute to our knowledge of SLA by providing deeper insight in the connection between literacy, metalinguistic abilities and language learning abilities.
This project is part of the Meta-LLL project. Supervision with Sybren Spit, Josje Verhagen and Michal Korenar
Getting good at language learning. An explorative study into language learning skills in non- and low literate second language learners (LESLLA learners)
Abstract: Non- and low literate second language learners generally face a laborious language learning trajectory, in which they often slowly progress. In order to learn a language successfully, learners need to manage multiple aspects of their learning processes, referred to as strategic self-regulation. Research provides evidence that language learning strategies and strategy instruction contribute positively to language learning outcomes. However, little is known about the effects of strategy use and instruction among non-literate learners. The aim of this explorative study is to develop better understanding of how strategy use and training may contribute to successful language learning and - teaching for LESLLA-learners.
Supervision with Judith Rispens
The construct of foreign language aptitude
Abstract: My PhD project reconsiders the construct of foreign language aptitude (FLA) from a dynamic perspective. In my research I take a holistic view of aptitude, considering not only cognitive abilities, but also affective and conative individual differences that influence language learning. This project is inspired by Richard Snow's work on aptitude complexes as well as recent developments in complex systems theory and network psychometrics.
Supervision with Judith Rispens
(Teaching) English as a multilingua franca: Preparing learners for successful communication in multilingual settings
Mili Gabrovsek Sanders (University of Applied Sciences Amsterdam)
Abstract: In present-day multilingual society, English functions as a multilingua franca, a global language learned and used by multilingual speakers to communicate across language borders. This important role of English has so far been insufficiently reflected in present-day English language teaching. This four-stage design research project therefore aims to further develop the emerging concept of English as a multilingua franca theoretically, and facilitate its transfer into practice, in order to provide teachers with the necessary tools for enhancing their learners’ capacity to communicate successfully in English in multilingual settings.
Supervision with Catherine van Beuningen (HvA)
Socio-pragmatics and second language acquisition: The effects of speaker-based expectations on word learning
Natalia Rivera Vera
In a series of experiments, this project explores to what extent listeners take into account features of the speaker when learning new words from this speaker, by maninpulating features of the speaker.
Supervision with: Judith Rispens, Padraic Monaghan and Edmundo Kronmuller
How literacy shapes language learning in child second language acquisition
Sarah der Nederlanden
Abstract: A substantial part of refugee children coming to the Netherlands is pre-literate. These children are faced with the difficult task of mastering the Dutch language while simultaneously learning to read and write. Because theories on language learning rarely consider literacy as a factor, we have little understanding of how the language learning process of the pre-literate child differs from that of the literate child. There is good reason to believe that literacy drastically impacts the way in which we think, and in turn, the way we learn. In this PhD-project, I will investigate how literacy shapes language learning in children.
This project is part of the Meta-LLL project: Supervision with Sybren Spit, Josje Verhagen and Yesim Sevinc
Two languages in daycare: An appraisal of bilingual early childhood education and care in the Netherlands
Abstract: English is gaining ground in the Dutch educational system. Many secondary schools in the Netherlands offer Dutch-English bilingual programs and early foreign language teaching in primary schools is becoming increasingly popular. This also goes for bilingual childhood education and care (henceforth: ECEC). This dissertation provides an in-depth overview of Dutch-English bilingual ECEC in the Netherlands, by addressing the following research questions: 1) what is the sociolinguistic, educational and sociopolitical context in which bilingual ECEC in the Netherlands transpired, 2) how is bilingual ECEC implemented and carried out, and 3) what are the consequences of the presence of two languages in bilingual ECEC for the actual practice and use of Dutch and English in one classroom, and for how Dutch and English affect each other structurally? The results of this dissertation show that there are links between the context, underlying ideologies and the implementation and organization of bilingual Dutch-English input. In addition, it reveals discrepancies between the Dutch government’s underlying ideologies and those of some of the daycare centers, and between the organization of bilingual input on paper and in practice. The results of this dissertation further indicate that the implementation of bilingual ECEC in the Netherlands is not something that needs to be feared, as time spent in bilingual ECEC on one language does not seem to come at the expense of the other. Rather, the two languages take on different roles in the classroom, and seem to find a way to work together and to support one another.
This project ws part of Project MIND. Supervision with Suzanne Aalberse and Folkert Kuiken
Meta-linguistic awarenss in early (second) language acquisition
It is commonly assumed children learn their first language entirely implicitly and without any conscious awareness of form and grammar. Although the role of meta-linguistic awareness in adult language acquisition has been extensively studied, such research is virtually absent in the field of child language acquisition. This research tries to fill this gap.
Supervision with Judith Rispens and Enoch Aboh
The interplay between learner, language, and input characteristics in second language acquisition
In this project, a series of second language learning experiments will be conducted to investigate how the learnability of a novel syntactic L2 structure is affected by the reliability of the input, the provision of metalinguistic information and by individual differences in aptitude for language learning.
Supervision with Folkert Kuiken
Most of the courses I teach are part of the master programme Dutch as a Second Language and multilingualism (Nederlands als tweede taal en meertaligheid). This is a programme of one and a half years that focuses on learning Dutch as a second language, the individual, societal and educational consequenses of multilingualism, and emerging literacy in an SLA context. The programme includes courses on second language acquisition and pedagogy, the development of language teaching materials, multilingualism and langauge policiy and adult literacy acquisition. The programme aims to bridge the gap between theory and practice.
In addition, I supervise theses, research internships and tutorial, and practical and educational internships