There are two types of sessions, keynotes and lectures. Both are delivered by renowned researchers – the difference is that lectures provide…

Keynote abstracts

Judit Kormos (Lancaster University): What role do low-level first language skills play in single and multimodal second language comprehension of young dyslexic and non-dyslexic learners?

In this presentation I discuss our recent research which investigated how the low-level first language (L1) skills, second language (L2) reading, reading-while-listening and listening performance of young dyslexic and non-dyslexic learners differ. The study also examined the link between low-level L1 skills and single and multi-modal L2 comprehension. This large-scale study was conducted with young Slovenian learners of English who completed assessment tasks in single and dual mode in a carefully counter-balanced order. The findings show that, in Slovenian, which is a transparent language, dyslexic students were still behind their non-dyslexic peers in word-level L1 skills after five years of literacy instruction.  Our results also call attention to the fact that students with weak L2 reading and listening skills might not always be at risk of, or diagnosed as having, dyslexia. The findings yield information that can assist in the valid and reliable diagnosis of L2 reading difficulties.

Jan Hulstijn (University of Amsterdam): An individual-differences framework for comparing non-native with native speakers: Perspectives from BLC Theory

In this presentation, I propose to study basic (shared) and extended (non-shared) language cognition in native speakers (L1ers) as a function of two types of extralinguistic attributes: (i) degree of being multilingual, and (ii) variables related to amount and type of literacy experiences (e.g., level of education). This approach may throw new light on the question of whether bilinguals can attain ‘complete’ or ‘native’ proficiency in two (or more) languages and (ii) the question of whether both early and late second-language (L2) learners can attain ‘native’ levels of L2 proficiency. For heuristic purposes, BLC Theory (Hulstijn, 2015) makes a distinction between basic language cognition (BLC) and extended language cognition (ELC), that is the language cognition (representation and processing) shared (BLC) or not shared (ELC) by all adult L1ers. An adequate language-acquisition theory should (1) explain why some structures are (BLC) and some other structures are not (ELC) comprehended and produced by all L1ers, and (2) describe the acquisition over time (development) of lexical-grammatical structures comprehended or produced by all or only by some L1ers. It is argued that usage-based linguistics stands a better chance of accomplishing this task than generative linguistics.


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

Robert DeKeyser (University of Maryland): Second language learning aptitude: not just important for learners

In this talk I will give a brief overview of how research on second/foreign language learning aptitude has evolved over the decades and where it seems to be going. I will stress the need for longitudinal research; for better selection of outcome variables; for research on aptitude for implicit learning; for research on interactions with treatments, contexts, structures, and age; and most importantly for putting research on aptitude center-stage in the study of language learning. I will argue that a better understanding of the role different aptitudes play for different structures, at different ages, under different learning conditions, and at different stages of learning is central to developing a better model of the language learning process.

Antonella Sorace (University of Edinburgh): Second language learning and first language attrition: Seeing both the forest and the trees

Recent research on adult bilingualism shows that selective aspects of grammar become unstable in speakers experiencing native language (L1) attrition from long-term exposure to a second language. These are the same aspects that remain variable even in highly proficient non-native (L2) speakers of the same language (Sorace 2011, 2016). Why do we see this convergence between L1 attrition and L2 acquisition? I will first show that the structures affected involve “complex contingencies” (Phillips & Ehrenhofer 2015) that require efficient integration of information across (syntactic, pragmatic and contextual) domains, and depend on the interaction of linguistic knowledge and cognitive control. I will then consider the possibility that the convergence between L1 attriters and L2 speakers may reflect a cognitive reorganization in individual successful late bilinguals that allows them to handle two languages efficiently. In other words, one type of ‘good L2 learner’ may be the one whose native language is most open to change.

Rosemarie Tracy (University of Mannheim): How steady is the steady state?

This lecture focuses on how L1 competence and performance of speakers change under long-term contact with and competition from another language. I will discuss a range of phenomena found in heritage speakers of German in contact with English, some of which have already been well-researched in German language islands (Boas 2009, Hopp & Putnam 2015, Stolberg 2014). It will be argued that some changes typically expected in heritage speakers are already found in first-generation immigrants. The empirical evidence is based on a corpus collected in a Tübingen-Mannheim DFG-project (Tracy & Lattey, Code-switching, crossover & Co., cf. Keller 2014, Tracy & Lattey 2010). The project investigated spoken and written contact phenomena in German immigrants in the U.S. who had left Germany as adults 50-70 years prior to the first recording. Participants were recorded over a period of six years. This mode of long-term observation allows us to distinguish marginal unsteadiness from more pervasive changes to fully developed, hence “steady”, pre-emigration L1 grammars. Findings contribute to current research on heritage speakers in at least two ways: Data from patterns of incipient language change in first-generation immigrants can (a) sharpen our ideas concerning the input available to following generations, i.e. the baseline (Polinsky & Kagan 2007), and (b) provide evidence about the interfaces vulnerable in adult L1 grammars.


  • Boas, Hans-Christian (2009). The Life and Death of Texas German. Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Hopp, Holger & Putnam, Michael (2015). Syntactic Restructuring in Heritage Grammars. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism 5 (2), 180-214.
  • Keller, Mareike (2014). Phraseme im bilingualen Diskurs. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.
  • Polinsky, Maria & Kagan, Olga (2007). Heritage Languages in the Classroom and in the Wild. Language and Linguistics Compass 1 (5), 368–395.
  • Stolberg, Doris (2014). Changing argument structure in (heritage) Pennsylvania German. Applied linguistics review 5 (2), 329–352.
  • Tracy, Rosemarie & Elsa, Lattey (2010). „Well, it wasn′t easy but irgendwie äh da hat sich’s rentiert, net?“: A linguistic profile. In: M. Albl-Mikasa, S. Braun & S. Kalina (eds.). Dimensionen der Zweitsprachenforschung. Tübingen: Stauffenberg, 53–73.

John Williams (University of Cambridge): Implicit and explicit learning: interactions and synergies

In this talk I will consider the relationship and possible interactions between implicit and explicit learning. I will review evidence that implicit and explicit learning operate concurrently, sometimes resulting in interference between them, and sometimes not, depending, for example, on time constraints and the complexity of the domain. I will then consider possible synergies between these two learning processes, asking whether implicit learning can lead to spontaneous insight, and whether it can facilitate intentional rule discovery. The focus will be on laboratory-based behavioral studies of learning in both linguistic and non-linguistic domains, but the findings should have implications for, and relevance to, language pedagogy.

Lecture abstracts

Tineke Brunfaut (Lancaster University): Language testing and SLA

SLA researchers use test tools to measure language development, proficiency or achievement, and a wide range of individual learner differences. They can design their own tools from scratch, or use and adapt existing tools. The range of research instruments and assessment practices from which SLA researchers can choose nowadays, to measure the construct of interest, has increased considerably in recent years. In this lecture, we will look at how language testing theory and practice can help SLA researchers develop, select, and evaluate research instruments to ensure valid measurements and conclusions with reference to the specific research purpose.

Recommended readings:

  • Chapelle, C. A. (2012). Conceptions of validity. In G. Fulcher & F. Davidson (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of language testing (pp. 21-33). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
  • O’Sullivan, B., & Weir, C. J. (2011). Test development and validation. In O’Sullivan, B. (Ed.), Language testing: Theories and practices (pp. 13-32). Basingstoke: Macmillan.
  • Xi, X., & Sawaki, Y. (2016). Methods of test validation. In E. Shohamy, I. G. Or, & S. May (Eds.), Encyclopedia of language and education (3rd ed.), Volume: Language testing and assessment. Springer

Cristina Flores (University of Minho): Key questions in research on Heritage Language Development.

Ana Lúcia Santos (University of Lisbon): Empirical findings, problems and open questions.

This lecture discusses key questions which have dominated the research on a particular subset of bilingual speakers, namely heritage speakers, from a linguistic perspective. In a first session, we will give an overview of the main findings of the last three decades, present some dominant hypotheses and discuss the role of different factors determining the linguistic competence of heritage speakers. In doing so, we highlight the differences between heritage language acquisition and second language acquisition. In the second session, we will discuss some findings resulting from research on heritage speakers of European Portuguese, present some methods used to test this population, inherent problems and questions which remain open.

Recommended readings:

  • Bayram, F., Pascual y Cabo, D., de la Rosa Prada , J. and Rothman, J. (2017) Why should formal linguistic approaches to heritage language acquisition be linked to heritage language pedagogies? In Trifonas, P. P.and Aravossitas, T. (eds.) International Handbook on Research and Practice in Heritage Language Education. Springer International Handbooks of Education. Springer, Switzerland. ISBN 9783319446929
  • Flores, Cristina, Kupisch, Tanja & Rinke, Esther (2017). Linguistic foundations of heritage language development from the perspective of Romance languages in Germany. In Pericles Trifonas & Aravossitas, T. (eds.), International Handbook on Research and Practice in Heritage Language Education. Springer International Handbooks of Education. Springer International Publishing AG, Switzerland pp. 1-18. DOI:10.1007/978-3-319-38893-9_12-1

Akira Murakami (University of Birmingham): Analysis of learner corpora for L2 research

As the use of learner corpora is becoming increasingly common in L2 research, it is now important for L2 researchers to acquire necessary knowledge and skills to appropriately analyze the data drawn from learner corpora. In this lecture, I will introduce influential methodological frameworks in learner corpus research including Contrastive Interlanguage Analysis (CIA; Granger, 1996, 2015) and Multifactorial Prediction and Deviation Analysis with Regressions (MuPDAR; Gries & Deshors, 2014), among others. They provide us with insights into learner language that are otherwise difficult for us to gain, but it is also important to recognize their assumptions and their potential pitfalls.

Recommended readings:

  • Granger, S. (2015). Contrastive interlanguage analysis: A reappraisal. International Journal of Learner Corpus Research, 1(1), 7-24.
  • Gries, S. Th., & Deshors, S. C. (2014). Using regressions to explore deviations between corpus data and a standard/target: Two suggestions. Corpora, 9(1), 109-136.

Aline Godfroid (Michigan State University): Cognitive foundations of language learning and teaching II

Questions about implicit (unconscious) and explicit (conscious) knowledge of language and how they interface are fundamental to SLA. Since Ellis’s (2005) landmark psychometric study, researchers have focused on developing valid measures of implicit and explicit knowledge, recognizing this as a necessary first step towards answering some long-standing questions in SLA. This lecture will provide an overview of key topics and questions in the study of implicit and explicit knowledge and present new findings that may help settle ongoing theoretical debates in the field (e.g., Ellis, Loewen, Elder, Erlam, Philp, & Reinders, 2009; Suzuki, 2017; Suzuki & DeKeyser, 2017).

Recommended readings:

  • Ellis, R. (2005). Measuring implicit and explicit knowledge of a second language: A psychometric study. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 27, 141-172.
  • Godfroid, A., Loewen, S., Jung, S., Park, J., Gass, S., & Ellis, R. (2015). Timed and untimed grammaticality judgments measure distinct types of knowledge: Evidence from eye-movement patterns. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 37, 269-297.
  • Suzuki, Y., & DeKeyser, R. (2017). The interface of explicit and implicit knowledge in a second language: Insights from individual differences in cognitive aptitudes. Language Learning, 67, 747-790.

Nicole Ziegler (University of Hawai’i): Language learning and technology

During the last few decades, the field of technology-mediated language learning has experienced a coming of age, with research evolving to include a diverse range of computer-mediated learning activities, tools, materials, and environments. In addition, the field has expanded from initial examinations regarding the efficacy of technology for language learning into investigations on how the affordances of technology might best be used to provide, support, enhance, and empirically examine opportunities for language learning and development. This lecture will provide a state-of-the-art review of the role of technology in SLA research, exploring theoretical and practical issues of importance for L2 learning, development, and performance. In addition, this lecture will explore how the integration of technology into the design of assessment and instructional treatments may provide unique affordances in terms of L2 data elicitation, collection, and analysis, as well as directions for future research.

Recommended readings:

  • Plonsky, L. & Ziegler, N. (2016). The CALL-SLA interface: Insights from a second order synthesis. Language Learning and Technology, 20(2), 17-37.
  • Ziegler, N., Rebuschat, P., Meurers, D., Ruiz, S., Moreno Vega, J., Li., W., & Grey, S. (2017). Interdisciplinary research at the intersection of CALL, NLP, and SLA: Methodological implications from an input-enhancement project. Language Learning, 67(S1), 209-231.

Dana Gablasova and Vaclav Brezina (Lancaster University): Corpora and SLA: Key conceptual and methodological issues

Corpora and corpus methods offer a unique insight into second language learning: they provide robust information about how language is used based on millions (or even billions) of words of texts and transcribed speech. This talk highlights two key conceptual and methodological issues related to appropriate use of corpora in SLA research and discusses the opportunities of collaboration between corpus linguists and SLA researchers. The issues are:  i) corpus design and representativeness and its effect on the ability to interpret and generalise the findings, and ii) the major methods in corpus linguistics (e.g. frequency of occurrence and collocation) and the challenges in their application in SLA research. Examples will be given from research on two corpora compiled at Lancaster University: the Trinity Lancaster Corpus (L2 corpus) and the British National Corpus 2014 (L1 corpus).

Recommended readings:

  • Brezina, V. & Gablasova, D. (2018). The corpus method. In: Culpeper, J, Kerswill, P., Wodak, R., McEnery, T. & Katamba, F. (eds). English Language (2nd edition). Palgrave.
  • Gablasova, D., Brezina, V., & McEnery, T. (2017). Collocations in corpus-based language learning research: Identifying, comparing, and interpreting the evidence. Language Learning, 67 (S1), 155–179.
  • Gablasova, D., Brezina, V., & McEnery, T. (2017). Exploring learner language through corpora: comparing and interpreting corpus frequency information. Language Learning, 67 (S1), 130–15.

Marije Michel (Utrecht University): Trends and issues in task-based language teaching (TBLT)

In this talk I will present the key topics and debates currently discussed by the TBLT community. First, I will introduce the audience to the main tenets of TBLT by discussing different definitions of the key construct – task – and reviewing perspectives on classroom implementation of TBLT. This part focusses on more practice-oriented questions such as the role of the learner and teacher in the TBLT classroom and implementing TBLT in large learner groups. In the second part, I will adopt a more research-oriented perspective as I will review challenges such as measuring and assessing task-based performance, defining the related construct of focus-on-form, and triangulating qualitative and quantitative approaches to investigating TBLT. Finally, innovative current research will be highlighted including corpus-based and NLP approaches to TBLT, eye-tracking task-based performance as well as research into digitally mediated task-based interaction.

Recommended readings:

  • Long, M. H. (2016). In defense of tasks and TBLT: Nonissues and real issues. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 36, 5-33.
    à and any article in the Special Issue on TBLT of the Annual Review of Applied Linguistics (2016), volume
  • Bryfonski, L., & McKay, T. H. (2017). TBLT implementation and evaluation: A meta-analysis. Language Teaching Research, 1362168817744389.
  • Ellis, R. (2017). Position paper: Moving task-based language teaching forward. Language Teaching, 50(4), 507-526.

Jason Rothman (University of Reading): LECTURE on Heritage Language Theory

In a departure from the “deficient” view of heritage language acquisition (Montrul 2008, 2016),  this lecture introduces the Experience Outcome Hypothesis (EOH), which claims that heritage speakers’ (HSs) outcomes can, in principle, be traced directly to each individual’s unique experiences with the heritage language (HL). I will discuss two interrelated factors that give rise to E—>OH effects, the input factor and the literacy effect. We focus on how they are predicted to interact to account for the typical trends and highly individualistic outcomes of HSs, especially related to disparate findings in the literature—e.g., why there should be tendencies of more and less HS convergent outcomes to monolingual counterparts by language (Spanish versus Russian), which in turn interacts with HL contexts (Spanish in the US versus Canada versus Holland).  We examine potential correlations between key proxies for experiential variables and HL grammatical outcomes with older and newer data sets of Portuguese, Spanish and Turkish as HLs in the North American and German context.

Suggested readings

  • Bayram, F., Rothman, J.,Iverson, M., Kupisch, T., Miller, D., Puig Mayenco, E., Westergaard, M. (2017). Differences in Use without Deficiencies in Competence: Passives in the Turkish and German of Turkish Heritage Speakers in Germany. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 1-21, doi:1080/13670050.2017.1324403
  • Kupisch, T. & Rothman, J.(2017). Terminology Matters!: Why difference is not incompleteness and how early child bilinguals are heritage speakers. International Journal of Bilingualism.org/10.1177/1367006916654355
  • Pires, A., & Rothman, J.(2009). Disentangling sources of incomplete acquisition: An explanation for competence divergence across heritage grammars. International Journal of Bilingualism, 13(2) 211-238.