Past Events

Date: 4 May, 3pm, Location: HUMMS 175

Speaker: Jacqueline Laws (University of Reading)

Title: Word Form Choice and Context Formality in Spoken English


Complex words such as un-kind and cheer-ful are formed from a base and prefix/suffix. The distribution of these affixes varies according to the formality of the context in which they are used. To date, research has focused on differences in frequency counts between spoken and various forms of written language, most notably Biber et al (1999) and Schmid (2011); however, the effect of register differences in speech on word form choice has not hitherto been explored systematically. The research reported in this talk fills this gap by categorising affix distribution differences as a function of the formality of the context in which speech occurs. I will present the initial results of a study which compared the usage patterns of 560 word-initial and 287 word-final affixes in the two sub-components of the spoken element of the British National Corpus (BNC): the less formal Demographically-Sampled, and the more formal Context-Governed component. The effect of speech context formality on word form choice was found to be considerably more pervasive than anticipated, and the implications for devising experimental materials based on published word frequency counts are discussed.

Biber, D., Johansson, S., Leech, G., Conrad, S., & Finegan, E. (Eds.). (1999). Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English. London: Longman.

Schmid, Hans-Jörg (2011), English morphology and word-formation. An introduction, Berlin: Erich Schmidt Verlag.

Date: 27 April, 3pm, Location: University of Reading, London Road Campus L022 G04

Speaker: Robert Sharples (University of Leeds)

Title: Mobility, marginalisation and multilingualism: researching young migrants in UK schools


Young migrants, particularly those who arrive in the UK as adolescents, are significantly marginalised in the education system. In large part this is because the formal structures of schooling do not admit much diversity: linguistic repertoires go unrecognised when a database can only accept the categories of ‘English’ or ‘non-English’ speaker. Experience of learning in formal and informal settings overseas is hard to draw on when teachers rarely acknowledge the complementary schools and private tuition centres on their doorsteps. Expertise is hard to articulate in another language. It is also in part because the young people themselves are difficult to pigeonhole: they differ in their prior schooling, their links to local communities, their legal status, their economic resources and their experiences of migration – as well as on many other clines.

This talk presents the findings of my doctoral research with young migrants at one South London secondary school. Drawing together photographs, interviews, field notes and audio recordings of classroom interaction it will explore the notions of diversity and difference, asking us to consider our own assumptions around the boundaries of acceptable behaviour and language use. It will look at where the margins really lie, finding that erasable whiteboards, mobile phones, the backs of hands and the margins of exercise books all offer a rich terrain for young people to negotiate identities away from the teacher’s gaze. Finally, it will introduce a theoretical argument that allows us to make sense of mobility as a resource in the classroom; linking the broader sweep of migration and globalisation to the small-scale interactions that make up daily life.

Young people, I argue, are marginalised when they are excluded from the mechanisms by which capital is distributed; perhaps because of this, the margins are also where we see them most actively negotiating identity, subjectivity and power.



Date: 16 March, Location: HUMMS G86

Language Studies PhD Conference

Date: 17 March, 3pm, Location: AGRIC GU04

Speaker: Holger Hopp (University of Braunschweig)

Title: The Bilingual Lexicon in L2 Sentence Processing


In this talk, I explore how different aspects of the bilingual lexicon affect the time course and the processing signatures in non-native sentence parsing. Research on the bilingual mental lexicon shows that bilinguals have interconnected lexical representations (non-selective access) and that bilinguals encode “Weaker Links” between word forms and lemmatic and conceptual information in their L2 than their L1. Four experiments on the processing of gender agreement in L2 German, on the parsing of reduced relative clauses and cleft sentences in L2 English probe the consequences of bilingual lexical co-activation and delays in lexical retrieval for L2 sentence processing. I will argue that many differences between native and non-native sentence comprehension that have hitherto been claimed to reflect morphosyntactic deficits in adult L2 sentence processing follow naturally from the structure of the bilingual mental lexicon. To integrate these findings in approaches to L2 sentence processing, I will outline the “Lexical Bottleneck Hypothesis” as a necessary addendum to a model of L2 sentence comprehension.


Date: 9 March, 3pm, Location: HUMMS G 74

Speaker: Esther de Leeuw (Queen Mary University)

The act of producing nonautonomous languages separately enhances executive control in bilinguals

Talk presentation slides


Research suggests that the languages of a bilingual are separate but not fully autonomous from one another (Baker & Trofimovich, 2005; Caramazza, Yeni-Komshian, Zurif, & Carbone, 1973; Paradis, 2001; Sundara, Polka, & Baum, 2006). Rather, they interact to varying degrees, in various situations, dependent upon social, biological, linguistic, and self-determined factors. A major question underlying research into bilingualism is the degree to which the languages of a bilingual interact and how such factors mitigate this degree. Furthermore, recent research indicates that bilinguals evidence enhanced executive control over monolinguals who, per definition, only ever control one language (Bialystok, Craik, & Luk, 2012; Bialystok, Poarch, Luo, & Craik, 2014; Luk & Bialystok, 2013).

The aim of my presentation is to propose that the reported advantage in executive control in bilinguals over monolinguals is driven not by the extent to which the languages of a bilingual interact, but rather by the act of having to produce the nonautonomous languages separately. Firstly, I provide support for the claim that the languages of a bilingual are separate but not fully autonomous through examination of research into L1 attrition. The findings from these phonetic and phonological studies into respectively Sylheti and Albanian native speakers in London show that even a fully acquired L1 is not impervious to the L2 in an extreme enough condition (e.g. de Leeuw, Schmid & Tusha, submitted; McCarthy & de Leeuw, in preparation). Such results, which indicate that the L1 is indeed malleable throughout the lifespan, furthermore challenge a maturational constraints perspective of language development. Thereafter, I discuss research into enhanced executive control in sequential bilinguals (de Leeuw & Bogulski, in press). The results from this study into Spanish L1 – English L2 speakers indicate that it is the increased use of their L2, and therefore a decreased use of the L1, which enhances executive control in sequential bilinguals, rather than proficiency in the L2 or age of L2 acquisition. Together, these studies are interpreted to support the proposal that the two languages of a bilingual interact, which thereby prevents bilinguals from ever attaining monolingual proficiencies (Cook, 1992; de Leeuw, 2014; Grosjean, 1998; Rothman & Treffers-Daller, 2014). Moreover, here I suggest that it is not this interaction between the two languages which drives the advantage in executive control, but rather it is the very act of having to produce the nonautonomous languages separately from one another which enhances executive control in bilinguals over monolinguals.


Baker, W., & Trofimovich, P. (2005). Interaction of Native- and Second-Language Vowel System(s) in Early and Late Bilinguals. Language and Speech, 48(1), 1–27.

Bialystok, E., Craik, F. I. M., & Luk, G. (2012). Bilingualism: consequences for mind and brain. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 16(4), 240–250.

Bialystok, E., Poarch, G., Luo, L., & Craik, F. I. M. (2014). Effects of bilingualism and aging on executive function and working memory. Psychology and Aging, 29(3), 696–705.

Caramazza, A., Yeni‐Komshian, G. H., Zurif, E. B., & Carbone, E. (1973). The acquisition of a new phonological contrast: The case of stop consonants in French‐English bilinguals. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 54(2), 421–428.

Cook, V. J. (1992). Evidence for Multicompetence. Language Learning, 42(4), 557–591.

de Leeuw, E. & Bogulski, C. A. (in press). Frequent L2 language use enhances executive control in bilinguals. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition.

de Leeuw, E. (2014). Reassessing maturational constraints through evidence of L1 attrition in the domain of phonetics. In E. Thomas & I. Mennen, Unravelling Bilingualism: A Cross-Disciplinary Perspective. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Grosjean, F. (1998). Studying bilinguals: Methodological and conceptual issues. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 1(02), 131–149.

Luk, G., & Bialystok, E. (2013). Bilingualism is not a categorical variable: Interaction between language proficiency and usage. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 25(5), 605–621.

Paradis, J. (2001). Do bilingual two-year-olds have separate phonological systems? International Journal of Bilingualism, 5(1), 19–38.

Rothman, J., & Treffers-Daller, J. (2014). A Prolegomenon to the Construct of the Native Speaker: Heritage Speaker Bilinguals are Natives Too! Applied Linguistics, 35(1), 93–98.

Sundara, M., Polka, L., & Baum, S. (2006). Production of coronal stops by simultaneous bilingual adults. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 9(01), 97–114.


Date: 17 February Location: Henley Greenlands

CeLM away day

Date: 24 February, 3pm, Location: University of Reading, London Road Campus, L022 103

Speaker: Ewa Haman (University of Warsaw)

Title: Is there a road to universal assessment of lexical knowledge in multilingual children?


In this talk we will present a method of construction of Cross-linguistic Lexical Tasks CLT (, which originated from COST Action IS0804 (2010-2013; and is still used for new languages. Twenty two versions are now available for researchers. CLT are a set of picture choice and picture naming tasks assessing receptive and expresive knowledge of nouns and verbs in preschool children. We will discuss results obtained for monolingual children in 17 languages and show examples of studies with bilingual children acquring various language pairs in diverse social situations (multilingual country, immigrant situation etc.).

We will attempt to answer questions related to linguistic, cultural and social differences which may lead to differences in lexical development in children acquiring different languages. The tension between real cross-linguistic differences and differences in the tools used for assessment may not be fully resolved, but we postulate CLT are potentially close to be a quasi-universal measure of lexical knowledge, available for the first time for such a wide range of languages in a unified and comparable form.


Date: 20 January, 9am-4pm, Location: University of Reading, London Road Campus, L22 G06

Vocabulary Studies Day

9.00 – 9.30      Arrive and welcome

9.30 – 10.30     Opening Plenary

Diane Schmitt: Defining Usefulness:  What makes a word list useful?

10.30 – 11.00   coffee break

11.00 – 11.30    Anthony Attwood: Entering and exiting in L2 English

11.30 – 12.00   Yixin Wang: Seeking better ways to predict international students’ academic success

12.00 – 13.00  Lunch + poster session in L22, 111

13.00 – 13.30   Helen Norris: Do stories rich in vivid mental imagery support incidental vocabulary learning?

13.30-14.00     Sally Alghamdi: Exploring the effect of repetition on incidental and intentional vocabulary learning and retention

14.00 -14.30    Yun Wang: Explaining listening comprehension among L2 learners of English: the contribution of general language proficiency, vocabulary knowledge and metacognitive awareness

14.30 -15.00    tea break

15.00 -16.00    Closing Plenary

Norbert Schmitt: Formulaic language: The latest Nottingham research

16.00               Finish

Date: 10 February, 4pm, Location: HUMSS G25

Classics meet CeLM: Developing Common Ground

Date: 11 February, 3pm, Location: URS SLT

Speaker: Jan Hulstijn (University of Amsterdam)

Title: Basic language cognition: The syntax of native speakers’ spontaneous speech as a function of level of education and profession


In the first part of this presentation, I will present my theory of Basic Language Cognition (BLC Theory) (Hulstijn, 2015), which is both a sociolinguistic and a cognitive theory of the knowledge and use of a first and second language. The construct of BLC refers to the knowledge of a language that all adult native speakers of that language (L1-ers) share. BLC is juxtaposed to Higher (or Extended) Language Cognition (HLC). The constructs of Core and Peripheral components of language proficiency stand in an orthogonal relationsship to the constructs of BLC and HLC. Using these four main constructs, BLC Theory contains seven corollaries, pertaining to the levels of language proficiency attainable in first and second languages in balanced and unbalanced bilinguals. The corollaries constitute a research agenda. The question of how big or small BLC is, is crucial (i) in the debate between generative and usage-based explanations of language acquisition and (ii) for the definition of the notion of native-like L2 proficiency, playing an important role in the critical-age of L2 acquisition literature.

In the second part of the presentation, I will report on a recent investigation aimed at defining the size of BLC in terms of syntax. Syntactic analyses will be reported on speech production data (approximately 12 hours of speech, 80,000 words) colleced from 98 L1-ers of Dutch, differing in age (18 – 76 years old) and level of education and profession (high vs low). The analyses pertain to clause length, central embeddings, relative clauses, sentence-initial subclauses of various types, NPs with heavy pre-nominal adjuncts, and verb phrases consisting of three or four verb forms.


Hulstijn, J.H.  (2015). Language proficiency in native and non-native speakers: Theory and research. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.


CeLM Seminars – Autumn 2014

Date: October 1st
Speaker: Professor Lee Osterhout (University of Washington, USA)
Title: Uncovering individual variation in language processing with ERPs

Date: October 15th
Speaker: Dr. Ian Cunnings (University of Reading)
Title: Anaphora resolution during non-native sentence processing

Date: October 30th
Speakers: Marcin Opacki, Małgorzata Foryś, Marta Marecka (University of Warsaw) and Adam Mickiewicz (University in Poznań)
Title: Phonological and Morpho-syntactic Features of Language and Discourse of Polish Children Raised Bilingually in Migrant Communities in Great Britain – Project Aims

Date: November 12th
Speaker: Dr. Xin Wang (University of Oxford)
Title: The role of language dominance in bilingual reading

Date: November 26th
Speakers: Dr. Cecile De Cat (University of Leeds) and Dr. Ludovica Serratrice (University of Manchester)
Title: Referential communication in bilingual and monolingual children

Date: December 10th
Speaker: Professor Mark Janse (University of Ghent)
Title: Cappadocian Greek: 4000 years of language contact in Asia Minor

CeLM Seminars – Spring 2014

Date: January 29th
Speaker: Professor Guillaume Thierry (Bangor University)
Title: Do bilinguals really have two languages?

Date: February 3rd
Speaker: Professor Martha Young Scholten (Newcastle University)
Title: Beginners: research, assessment and materials.

Date: February 19th
Speaker: Dr Laura Shapiro (Aston University)
Title: Reading comprehension in children from diverse language backgrounds

Date: March 3rd
Speaker: Dr Selma Babayigit (UWE, Bristol)
Title: Oral language and literacy development in children with English as a second language

Date: March 19th
Speaker: Dr Carol Jaensch (University of Essex)

Date: April 16th
Speaker: Dr Manne Bylund (University of Stockholm)
Title: Differences in L2 ultimate attainment: age of acquisition effects or effects of bilingualism?

CeLM Seminars – Autumn 2013

Date: September 18th
Speaker: Professor Roumyana Slabakova (University of Iowa & University of Southampton)
Title: The Effect of Construction Frequency and Native Transfer on the L2 knowledge of the Syntax-Discourse Interface

Date: October 7th
Speaker: Professor Li Wei (Birkbeck College, University of London)
Title: Multilingualism, Social Cognition, and Creativity

Date: October 23rd
Speaker: Professor Suzanne Romaine (University of Oxford)

Date: November 6th
Speaker: Dr John Williams (University of Cambridge)
Title: Linguistic Naturalness and Implicit Learnability

Date: November 20th
Speaker: Professor David Green (University College London)
Title: Language Control in Bilingual and Multilingual Speakers

Date: December 2nd
Speaker: Professor Jean Marc Dewaele (Birkbeck College, University of London)
Title: Intra- and Inter-individual Variation in Code-Switching Patterns of Adult Multilinguals

Date: December 9th
Speaker: Dr Victoria Murphy (University of Oxford)
Title: Language and Literacy Development in Children with English as an Additional Language


Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM) Seminar Series, Spring 2015

Date: January 28th
Time: 3:00-4:30
Location: Whiteknights campus, Agriculture Building, Room: 1L14
Speaker: Professor Petra Schulz (University of Frankfurt)
Title: The acquisition of exhaustivity in wh-questions

Date: February 4th
Time: 3:00-4:30
Location: Whiteknights campus, HUMSS, Room: 125
Speaker: Professor Mila Vulchanova (Norwegian University of Science and Technology)
Title: How spatial categories map on to language: Evidence from L1 and L2 users

Date: February 18th
Time: 3:00-4:30
Location: Whiteknights campus, Agriculture Building, Room: GU04
Speaker: Professor Marianne Gullberg (Lund University)
Title: Implicit language learning at first exposure across the lifespan – behavioural and neurocognitive evidence

Date: March 18th
Time: 3:00-4:30
Location: Whiteknights campus, Agriculture Building, Room: 1L06
Speaker: Professor Rosemary Varley (University College London)
Title: Global aphasia: the case for autonomy of language and thought


Date: 18 November, 4:30pm, HUMSS G74

Speaker: Professor Hazita Azman (University Kebangsaan Malaysia)

Title Language-in-education-policy: A redirection towards dual language programmes for a linguistically diverse nation


Language-in-education-policy in Malaysia has undergone three significant shifts between 2003 and 2015, in its attempt to uphold the national language as a language for national unity as well as language of knowledge, whilst strengthening English language proficiency among the multilingual learners. The first shift occurred in 2003 when, in a determined move to develop Malaysia into a knowledge based economy and industrialized nation status by 2020, the then prime minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, boldly reversed the national language medium of instruction policy to reintroduce English as a medium of instruction for Maths and Science, amidst the hue and cry of nationalists and vernacular schools proponents. After nearly a decade of continuous protests over the controversial policy, the decision to switch back to the national language or the Malay Language (Bahasa Melayu) as well as to the vernacular mother tongues (Mandarin and Tamil) to teach Maths and Science was made by the government in 2012. However, this second shift, seen as a re-reversal of the policy, drew strong criticism from the industry and corporate world who claim that low English proficiency among the graduates especially, render them unemployable and disadvantaged. Most recently, the third shift, which has come about less than 3 years of the second shift, was announced by the current prime minister, who claims that the government recognizes the importance of the English Language in the face of current global competition. In his 2016 Budget speech last month, he had introduced two initiatives namely the Dual Language Programme and Highly immersive programme to be implemented and piloted on 300 schools as an option. Hence, this talk will examine the processes in development and the inconsistencies in assumptions regarding these language policy shifts; and explore the plausibility that the recent initiative may in fact offer a compromise that will realize the three fold bilanguage policy aims, that is to uphold the national language as the medium of unity and as language of knowledge, while simultaneously strengthening proficiency in the English language for global competitiveness.

About the speaker

Dr. Hazita Azman is Professor of Applied Linguistics and Literacy in ESL. She has researched and published on ESL teaching methodology for primary, secondary and tertiary levels, rural literacy, and multimodal literacies. She heads the Language informatics research group at UKM, who investigates on digital literacies and whose work has received gold medals for research on ESL digital literacy and rural e-Literacy at the national level. Her research endeavours with her team of fellow language informatics researchers have also resulted in the development of significant research products namely the on-line English language competency tests for academicians; an exit English test for graduating university learners that gauge their readiness for workplace literacy skills; iELLS—an online English literacy learning system; and iREAD—an online reading for academic purposes system.


Date: 25 November, 3:30pm, AGRIC 1L14

Speaker: Petros Karatsareas (University of Westminster)

Title: Tracing the historical development and loss of grammatical gender in Asia Minor Greek.


Date: 2 December, 3pm, HUMSS G74

Speaker:Christos Pliatsikas  (University of Reading)

Title: The effects of bilingualism on brain structure


Recent evidence has suggested that learning and using a second language (L2) can affect the brain structure, including the volume of cortical and subcortical grey matter, as well as the integrity of white matter tracts (Li et al., 2014; Stein et al., 2014). Importantly, these effects can in turn be related to, or even affect, the way the bilingual brain functions. In this talk I will present recent evidence further supporting these suggestions, and I will be focusing on the relationship of these structural effects to learning a second language in an immersive environment.