My interests in language is manifold, but my current interests can be split into the following two areas.
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? Also, what helps young children acquire new nouns? Most recently, my PhD student Cecilia Zuniga Montanez investigated 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 or 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 https://s3.elklan.co.uk/Shop/STASS_Publications/WinG
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, cognitive control, social competence and mental health. With my PhD student Valeria Agostini I found that the acquisition of a foreign language at school can boost cognitive abilities, social-communicative skills, and creativity. I am currently investigating the mechanisms of this advantage. I am also studying the underlying neural mechanisms of language switching abilites in bilingual adults and their relations with individual differences in bilingual experience and cognitive control abilities.
The effects of individual differences in bilingual experience on cognitive control networks (3-year ESRC project)
Together with Katrien Segaert, Ali Mazaheri (both U of Birmingham), Vince DeLuca (now at The Artic University of Norway), Felix Carter (now postdoctoral fellow at U of Bristol), 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, affect brain structure and function and how those determine behaviour in cognitive control tasks.
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.