Research team

Centre for Computational Linguistics and Psycholinguistics (CLiPS)

Expertise

I investigate sentence production patterns (do you prefer "My grandma's jacket is yellow" or "The jacket of my grandma is yellow"?) in order to determine which memory representations, procedures and memory systems are involved in the production and comprehension of language. I'm interested in sentence production by experienced bi-/multilinguals, but also by speakers who have not fully mastered a language. How do we learn constructions in a new language? How do we handle sentence structures that are very similar across languages (the mouse is being chased by the cat - de muis wordt achternagezeten door de kat)? Do representations of our native language interfere with sentence production in a second language? And the other way around? The role of implicit and explicit memory processes is sentence production is a common thread trough all of these research questions. Recently, I started investigating language production at a higher level as well: the production of academic texts. I will try out different kinds of feedback to improve students' writing quality and focus on the differences and similarities between writing in a first/second/foreign language. I use sentence production experiments with ad withou syntactic priming, sentence comprehension studies, language learning studies using a miniature-language-paradigm, and writing research using keystrokelogging.

Source-based writing in L1, L2 and FL: modelling of successful process characteristics. 01/10/2020 - 30/09/2024

Abstract

Nowadays, writers rarely ever write from scratch. They integrate information from multiple online sources (e.g., reports, articles, blogs, tweets) into a new text that is coherent and relevant. Source-based writing is a complex mental process: writers must compare, contrast and evaluate sources, plan the text, select the relevant information from the sources and add new data, and write the text. The academic research into source-based writing is limited, yet in full development due to its growing professional importance. The existing research is focused primarily on the writing product and writing in the L1 (i.e., dominant language). This research project aims to create a theoretical model that describes source-based writing in the L1 (Dutch), L2 (English) and FL (French, Spanish). We will explore (1) how writers consult digital sources during the writing process, (2) how they integrate input (e.g., content, structure and wording) from those sources in their writing product, and (3) how these processes relate to the quality of the writing product and the writer's working memory and linguistic proficiency. We will do so by: (1) analysing keystroke logging data of about 600 texts written by master's students in Multilingual Professional Communication; (2) analyzing the students' writing products and processes by various plagiarism and linguistic annotation tools; (3) investigating the effect of process feedback on source-based writing via peer-based examples (modelling) in an experimental study.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The development and representation of Dutch syntax in learners of Dutch as a foreign language and learners of Dutch as a second native language. 01/01/2019 - 31/12/2022

Abstract

In current days of mass migration, many people learn a brand new language at a later age. This is not easy: Languages have both similarities and differences in the sentence structures with which they express particular meanings. For instance, the Dutch and French active sentences are similar in both languages (Le chat chasse la souris - De kat jaagt op de muis [The cat cases the mouse]), but Dutch has three different forms for the full passive sentence, whereas French has only one (La souris est chassée par le chat). How do learners deal with this? Previous research suggests that bilinguals share information about sentence structure across their languages, whenever these structures are similar enough. We proposed a developmental model for second language syntax in which learners go through 5 consecutive learning stages before they share syntax between languages. The goal of this project is to test and refine that theory. We will investigate the syntactic representations in different speakers of Dutch: 1) Flemish students with Dutch as their only native language; 2) Arabic-Dutch simultaneous bilinguals; 3) Walloon students who learned Dutch at the age of 10; 4) first generation immigrants learning Dutch as second Indo-European language. This will provide valuable information on the learning trajectory for Dutch syntax (with its possible problems) and on the influence of native language syntax on the development and the final representation of Dutch syntax. -

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Research team(s)

The development of Dutch syntax in learners of Dutch as a foreign language: effects of immersion, language background and training by means of syntactic priming. 01/10/2018 - 30/09/2022

Abstract

Background: In these days of mass migration, many people learn a brand new language at a later age. This is not easy: Languages have both similarities and differences in the sentence structures with which they express particular meanings. For instance, the Dutch and French active sentences are similar in both languages (Le chat chasse la souris - De kat jaagt op de muis [The cat cases the mouse]), but Dutch has three different forms for the full passive sentence, whereas French has only one (La souris est chassée par le chat). How do learners deal with this? Aims: Previous research suggests that bilinguals share information about sentence structure across their languages, whenever these structures are similar enough. Hartsuiker and Bernolet (2017) proposed a developmental model for second language syntax in which learners go through several consecutive learning stages before they share syntax between languages. The challenging aspect is our goal to test that theory in ecologically valid settings. More specifically, we investigate the influence of immersion in the L2 and of knowledge of related languages on the development and the representation of Dutch syntax in students who learn Dutch as a foreign language. Additionally, we investigate whether and how syntactic priming experiments can aid the develoment of native-like production preferences in Dutch as an L2. Methodology: All studies in the project use syntactic priming as a tool (Branigan & Pickering, 2017): all sentences that need to be produced or comprehended are preceded by a prime sentence with the same or a competing syntactic structure. If a prime structure is represented in memory, it will influence the production and the comprehension of the upcoming sentence, within and across languages. We will investigate the syntactic representations in different speakers of Dutch: 1) Flemish students with Dutch as their only native language; 2) Walloon students who learned Dutch at the age of 10; 3) first generation immigrants learning Dutch as their first or second Indo-European language. The first production study compares groups 1 and 2. We investigate the representation of Dutch syntactic structures that lack a similar counterpart in the learners' native language (French) and we compare the production preferences for Walloon learners of Dutch living inan immersion context with the preferences of learners living in a monolingual French context. The second study investigates how we can boost the production of Dutch syntactic structures that are dispreferred due to influence of a native language. Studies 3 is a longitudinal study that explores the differences between the learning trajectories for Dutch syntax in native Arabic speakers who learn Dutch as their first or second Indo-European language (after English). Impact: By documenting the different stages in L2 syntactic development with actual learner data, this project will have a strong impact on both the psychology of language and on second language acquisition research. Additionally, this project will provide valuable information on the learning trajectory for Dutch syntax, more specifically on the influence of native language syntax, and on the effects of immersion, knowledge of related languages and specific training on the development and the final representation of Dutch syntax. Hence, the project outcome will be relevant to teachers and trainers of Dutch as a foreign language.

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Research team(s)