Research Projects

Birmingham Language Learning and Bilingualism Lab

My interests in language is manifold, But my current interests can be split into the following three areas. 


Language Learning


I am interested in children's language acquistion. I am particularly fascinated by the question what makes some words harder or easier to acquire. For instance, why do nouns dominate early vocabulary of children and what makes it so difficult to acquire words such as verbs that refer to relational referents? And what helps young children acquire new nouns? My PhD student Cecilia Zuniga Montanez investigates ways one can boost noun acquisition by teaching young children, including those with a very slow vocabulary development, to focus on particular aspects of noun referents (such as shape and function).


I am also a co-author on a new language vocabulary test for 19-36 month old English speaking children: WinG (Words in Game Test). This test allows direct assessment of language knowledge for an age range that to date could only be tested via parental questionaires. See

http://www.stasspublications.co.uk/CatalogueRetrieve.aspx?ProductID=9832676&A=SearchResult&SearchID=2238576&ObjectID=9832676&ObjectType=27


Bilingualism


Bilingualism has become a very big part of my research. While I had been involved in a large ESRC project into vocabulary development assessment of bilingual toddlers (principle investigator: Caroline Floccia, U of Plymouth), my current interest lies in the interplay of bilingualism and cognitive control. Valeria Agostini currently investigates whether the acquisition of a foreign language at school can boost cognitive abilities and social-communicative skills. Zlatomira Ilchovska studies the relationship of language switching abilites in bilingual adults with their cognitive control abilities and their brain structure. Similarily, Asma Assaneea has studied the relationship of cognitive control and lexical competition resolution during language switches. And Yifan Wang investigates perspective taking abilities in bilingual adults and how these are affected by their biculturalism. 

 


The effects of individual differences in bilingual experience on cognitive control networks (3-year ESRC project)

  

Together with Katrien Segaert and Ali Mazaheri (both U of Birmingham) and my postdoc Vince DeLuca, I am currently investigating how individual differences in bilingual experience, such as age of acquisition of the second language or the usage of the two languages, affects both brain structure and behaviour in cognitive control tasks.  



Dyslexia


Dyslexia is an area that I am collaborating on with my colleague Andrew Olson (U of Birmingham). Zheni Goranova just finished her PhD project on cognitive control in high-functioning dyslexic adults. And Katie Jobson just started a PhD project on dyslexia intervention in schools. She is particularly interested in why some children with reading difficulties do or do not respond to typical dyslexia interventions and how the brain signals change due to the intervention.



Interested in being part of my research?

 

If you are interested in being a participant in any of my studies, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am also eager to hear from you if you are interested in working with me as a PhD student, postdoc, or research assistant. See contact details on homepage.