What are you going to do
In the Netherlands and elsewhere, there are substantial groups of immigrant children and adults that face the difficult task of learning to read and write while acquiring a second language (L2). We know that literacy imbues all kinds of cognitive changes, but we do not understand well yet what these changes mean for how (effectively) a language is learned. This project focuses specifically on the relationship between literacy, meta-linguistic cognition, and language acquisition by charting the language acquisition processes of emerging readers. The project tries to understand how literacy changes language acquisition by following groups of emerging readers (children and adults with an immigrant background) longitudinally, when learning the second language (i.e., Dutch) and simultaneously learning to read and write. In doing so, this project aims to advance theories of second language acquisition as well as improve L2 learning and instruction for emerging readers. This project will be conducted within the Dutch educational context and envisages a mix of methods ranging from descriptive and qualitative techniques to quantitative psycholinguistic experimentation, including the use of eye-tracking methods and intensive longitudinal data collection in time series designs.
The goals for both PhD projects are to study 1) how metalinguistic ability develops in relation to increasing literacy skills and cognitive maturation; 2) how this development affects the ability to learn a second language and 3) how this interacts with individual difference variables such as cognitive aptitude for second language learning and socio-affective variables. Envisaged methods are guided elicitation experiments in combination with qualitative analyses of observed behaviour, cross-sectional behavioural language learning experiments, and multivariate time series or panel studies in which a small group of learners is followed intensively over a longer period of time. The focus is on immigrant children (PhD 1) and immigrant adults (PhD 2) that learn Dutch as a second language while they also learn to read, but comparisons with literate and/or L1 groups are envisaged in some studies. A postdoctoral researcher will also be recruited to investigate how emerging readers begin to incorporate the written modality into their language learning process.
You will be part of a team of researchers that take on the challenge of increasing our understanding of second language acquisition processes in these understudied populations. The project team will consist of two PhD students, one post-doctoral researcher and the PI, and will be supported by project assistants and knowledgeable PhD supervisors. The project is subdivided into three clearly delineated but closely related subprojects that will collaborate for design and materials development; The PhD projects will focus on child and adult second language (i.e., Dutch) learning by emerging readers, respectively, but there may be possibilities for redrawing boundaries between subprojects depending on team members’ expertise and wishes.
The deadline for applying for this vacancy is 30 October 2022.